Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lesson Undone

The lesson was planned yet I pushed through the introduction even though some students weren't ready. I was watching the clock and anxious to move through the assignment.

I should have known better as the few who weren't attending from the start never really got going with the project. Instead they found disruptive things to do.  I redirected to no avail as I tried to keep my focus on the the class in general and the students sitting with me--the ones I had targeted to help during this learning event.

Redirect, and redirect again, and then the always unsuccessful threats i.e. "you'll miss recess," "do you want stay after school," and "how about working in the principal's office?" (I hate when I hear those words spoken.) By then it was clear, the bad start had resulted in a lesson undone and learning hindered, well at least the intended learning.

This is one of the challenges of teaching.  It doesn't always go as planned, and sometimes children's agendas are different than yours.  While you're hoping to strengthen math skill, they might be more interested in getting the attention of the class leader or cracking a joke.  Perhaps their minds are filled with holiday wonderings and thoughts of the after school club.  We've been there ourselves as students.

Whenever this happens, it sends me back to the drawing board and signals a change for the classroom in general.  The activity was less structured at a time of year when more structure works since children are tired from special events and excited about the upcoming holidays  The current desk arrangements are not a good match for this wonderful group of fourth graders who are all testing out their social skills and making new friends.  Finally, the lesson was a bit too ambitious leading some to frustration.

This was a turn in the road--a call for some renewed community building, structure and greater differentiation in expectation for this class of young learners.  I like to get it right, but sometimes that just doesn't happen. Moving forward.