Thursday, April 16, 2009

What about school?

Ok, so I blogged how busy I an outside of school, but this is a school blog so whats up at school?

I struggle. I've been teaching for 3-1/2 years and I suffer from wanting everything to turn out perfectly, and having it not turn out perfectly!

This year I am trying to pay attention to what keeps a student from learning. I have found that one of the biggest obstacle is vocabulary. I am not talking about content vocabulary (I teach science and their is a huge list of vocabulary I have to introduce every week!) I am talking about words such as distinguish, interaction, stalking (for predator and prey), grazing, herds, and so many every day words that I am familiar with, but they are not because they haven't been exposed to that type of vocabulary. I have learned not to assume that they "should"know that word. When students ask me what something means I will usually tell the whole class, just to make sure that everyone knows it.

Another area students have problems in is their confidence. They do not have confidence in what they have learned and what they know. I learned this really well this year. One thing that I allow my students to do after every test is to repair it. Repairing the test is a process in which the student corrects every problem on the test that they got wrong . They need to find the correct answer using the book or notes and explain why they got it wrong (what confused them). When the students go through correcting their test they find that they are amazed that they choose the wrong answer. I get responses such as "Why did I choose that?", "I remember that from lecture", and "that was from the lab". Away from the pressure from the test they remember more. I always reinforce these self discoveries in hopes that during the next test they will do better.

Another blow to a students confidence is how teachers interact with their students. My students have told me that some teachers do call them stupid. As a teacher I do understand the frustrations when students don't know, but there needs to be that pause in between the anger to analyze what the student doesn't understand, you can't get angry. To call a student stupid in the classroom is really to destroy the confidence of all students in the room. I have done something similar. I had a student ask me what page we were on (after I said what page three times already) and I replied "If you were listening you would know". I immediately felt like such an ass after I said that. I immediately stopped the class and apologized for the stupid statement that came out of my mouth. I told them to please always ask me if they don't know what to do. I rather have them ask me (than sit there and do nothing because they don't want to ask me).

I understand why a teacher would get angry or frustrated, that is normal human reaction. The difference is to be able to get over being mad and teach the students what they need to know. I know not to take home being frustrated by what students know and don't know, and I don't. I am disappointed in my fellow teachers that they let the anger spill out and take it out on the students we share.

Everyday is a new day, whether its a day in September or June. I teach the kids, and as I teach the kids I also learn from them too.

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