In education you will learn that teachers and students communicate differently. They also have different value systems. It is this acknowledgement and the recognition of those values that create a positive environment in the classroom. As educators, we value students’ performance particularly mastery of information above all. Conversely, students value the grade. Good grades do not always equate to mastery or understanding; however, it is the main motivation for them to try. consequently, the term “try” can be a two edged sword because it looks different on each student. For some “try” may be to study, to others the term may mean to apply themselves in the class, and for those who are used to making great grades all the time, the term “try” when being challenged sometimes desperately equates to cheating, so it is my job to balance the buy-in factor with ethical decisions. This leads me to my topic. The world as we know is run by a “play on words”. As educators we have to do everything methodically with the classroom purpose in mind. That goal is, to meet classroom objectives and to maintain happy learners.
Over the years I have learned that children are quite contradictory in their acts and deeds. They may say or do one thing but mean the absolute opposite. Often times we as teachers and parents do the same with hopes that we achieve a conceding or agreeable response. Below I would like to share a few comments we may hear when dealing with children and translate their meanings.
What the student is really trying to say is, “I’m mad at myself for not being able to perform the desired task, let me act like I ain’t got time for this and walk off.” This action is common with working with kids that require physical effort. Frustration sets in pretty quickly, so to avoid their perceived failure becoming scrutinized, they do it to themselves by creating a scene to distract us. I quit seldom means it, but rather a plea for leniency or extra assistance. With that we must push the students to keep trying.
YOU GET ON MY NERVES:
As a male teacher I get this a lot from my female students. Because positive male interactions are so rare in a school environment with so few men in education, and there is so little male presence at home, these comments I receive usually are saying this: “I’m really glad someone is finally listening to me but I’m not used to it!” So take this comment positively.
I DON’T UNDERSTAND… ANY OF IT!
When I get this comment, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. How can I explain all this information, write all these steps on the board, and go through all of these examples and you have such a generalized response?! When I get this response I challenge the students to give me specifics. This means that they have to sit back and process the information enough to sift out where they actually got lost. When this is done they show understanding of something which is half the battle.
WHEN WILL I EVER NEED THIS?
This is the comment that makes teachers want to throw up their hands and sit down. In my experience the comment usually interrupts instruction which feels like a slap in the teacher’s face. But what they are really saying is, “This is really hard, Mr/Ms Teacher, convince me that I should keep trying to figure this out.” So ironically as teachers, this is the moment we have to “dig in” and really help bring understanding.
Dealing with our students, it requires extreme of patience. But patience in the classroom is waiting magnified: waiting for students to respond to questions, waiting for students to calm down as not to trying and over talk people, waiting for a student to relax from being overwhelmed from the task, waiting for students to practice and think enough to gain their own level of understanding. The waiting game is paramount in the classroom. Because as we master the “wait” or as they say allow students to preserver, the results are confidence in self, the teacher, and to keep trying newer concepts.
There are countless “Code Words (actions)” that students will express throughout the school year. Though we aren’t mind readers, we must use our telepathic skills to create relationships that help students move past “code” into open and clear expression. For when a child can do this, we can safely say that we are helping make more effective adults. I mean that is what education is all about isn’t it?