Thursday, November 6, 2014

lessons from sixth period

**DISCLAIMER: there is no cute story--or even a person!!--to accompany the title of this post. :)

on monday, id had it.  there was a 14--fourTEEN--point difference between the averages on last weeks german two exam.  i know i taught the information the sam way to both periods, so i felt pretty off the hook, blame-wise, for the discrepancy.  when i approached the class to ask what can we do differently, i received the typical answers, some more honest than others:

"we can study more." yes.
"we can study before the night before." good!! get the idea.  i muscled my was through an honestly lack-luster lesson.  their questions indicated another, different problem, which i later identified--they are only there to get a grade...and that motivates exactly no one, myself included.  after school, it finally also dawned on me that i, actually, have a rare item--a seventh period which isnt a bear!  however, i didnt recognize this until now because sixth period wears my patience to beyond squeaky brakes.  to the point where youre hearing grinding and realize you need to get your rotors done, and there is nothing left to give seventh period, except easily irritated impatience.  so, i decided: sixth period needs to change.  and it needs to start, i somehow instinctively knew, by removing distractions.  as many as possible.

on tuesday, i was resolved, and i had a plan.  the kids came in in their usual, disorganized fashion.  they "did" their warm-up activity.  after that, i instructed them to 'get out [their] notes and a writing utensil that will not need to be sharpened.  then, but everything else in your backpack, and your backpacks in the corner.  phones should be placed on this (unused) set of desks.'  i put my phone there, too, to show that i was all-in, as well.  then i looked up, and 21 backpacks were along the back wall, and maybe five were in the corner.  ummm...what? i asked where theyd been instructed to place their bags, and a meek couple of responses were offered: "in the back corner." right. "so," i queried, why are there bags ALL ALONG the back wall?" i dont recall if verbal responses were offered, but i knew the answer was, 'it doesnt matter--it was done well enough."  no.  they moved their backpacks, and we talked about the reasoning behind the decision.

{NEW IDEA} as i was recounting this story to my friend, will, this morning, the Holy Spirit laughed at me, "sarah, that is exactly what you do.  you are given instructions, but fulfill them only partially, deciding htat you know what the requirements/requests REALLY are.  because you know better.  further, you are also a DISASTER with distractions around you.  like they are.  remember how you were, earlier this summer, faced with people whose qualities annoy you...and they are simply doing what you do?  yes, that is a good way to teach you because you always learn well from others' examples. {END IDEA}

hm.  well, thanks, Holy Spirit, for that reality check.  i am, though, actually very thankful because this was a MUCH gentler lesson than i have been given of late.  i am thankful for the respite.  so, what happened when the students' distractions were removed from them?

Learning happened.  it was good, and it was probably not me at work for it.  

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