Friday, January 23, 2015

Nuisance (by Coach Ryan)

Grant Wiggins writes a blog about education and just a few months ago posted this -- an account of a veteran high school teacher who decides to shadow two students for a day to get a better feel for what it's like to be a HS student.

The post is a terrific read for any educator/Coach, and I won't give it all away here.  But the writer describes her 3 Key Takeaways from the experience, and they are worth paying attention to.  Thinking on these points has caused me to slightly alter the lens through which I look at my students.

The first two points were no surprise.  Good to keep in mind, but no real shock that

1. Students sit all day long, and sitting is exhausting.
2. High School students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90% of their classes.

Like I said, good to maybe think about how I can improve learning by giving students an opportunity to move around and speak in my classroom.

However, point #3 hit me right between the eyes.

3. You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long.

As this teacher describes the "snark and sarcasm" directed at students, I realized how I have often been guilty of that with students, athletes, even my own children.  It's not that we need to baby these kids, and I'm sure once in a while a little snark and sarcasm can serve as a wake up call for a child who can benefit from it.

But remember, this article was written from the perspective of a teacher shadowing the students.  Having that experience was a big eye-opener for her, and reading about it was quite an eye-opener for me.

She wrote this, "I had a great deal more empathy for students after shadowing, and I realize that sarcasm, impatience, and annoyance are a way of creating a barrier between me and them.  They do not help learning."

Principles that apply in the classroom nearly always apply on the practice field.  How many times as a Coach have I gotten frustrated with a child and offered up some kind of smart-mouthed comment?  Maybe I even got a chuckle out of other kids or another Coach, which only reinforced my desire to do the same thing again later.  Ouch.

I know kids can be frustrating.  (By the way, I can be frustrating too.)  I know sometimes it's hard to hold my tongue when they are just asking for it.  But I also know this: if I'm honest, I don't ever want a kid to feel like a nuisance.  So even though I know I won't do it perfectly, I am becoming intentional about dropping the sarcasm.  Even if I have to answer the same question 15 times in just a few minutes.  Why not?  It's not about me anyway.

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