March 5 – that girl

224/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Teaching is about making connections. Making connections is fundamental to teaching effectively. The lesson is just as equal if not a tad beneath the establishment of bonds – this is just my opinion. I have mentioned numerous times that I am fortunate enough to have these connections take place but that is because most of the students I have talked about have wanted to also make the connection. It’s a two way reciprocal street. However, I have had a handful of students over my ¼ century of teaching (damn, I’m old) where the students have not been as enamoured with me/my teaching style as I would like. I want those students in my classes because that is a challenge to my teaching – I want to connect with them as well and vice versa. This semester, I have that one girl who just oozed disdain towards teachers/authority figures when she came into my Psychology class. I kind of knew that I had my work cut out with her as I was not going to easily impress her with my knowledge or sense of humour. I also did not heed the talk of others who told me I would have a difficult time with her – I will hear people out but I will never allow them to colour my perceptions about a person. I make up my own mind about someone based on the experience I have with the person, not based on someone else’s experience.   I absolutely love having this girl in class – yes, she was a bit wary of me in the beginning and had that aloofness towards me which is totally understandable but here we are in week 4 (or is it 5 – yes, I am exhausted) and she participates and makes insightful comments and, not surprisingly, I have learned a couple of things from her – I am not threatened by knowledge and just because I’m older doesn’t mean I know everything (or anything for that matter). I love students who have a sense of self and are about the learning (and yes, the connections) and not solely there to get the “A” which I am only a means to that end.  Here is this respectful teenager who comes to class regularly, does her work, takes an interest in the subject matter and in my mind is no different than anyone else.   I also do think I am finally making a connection: Firstly, I told her I wanted to see her smile and that was my goal and for the first few weeks, I didn’t see it but I got it this last week – a genuine, real smile. Secondly, and more importantly, the students were tasked with completing a satisfaction survey on the school. As they were filing in, I mentioned it to each and everyone and as this student walked by, she said “0 out of 10” and I immediately said “What about me???” and she replied “Okay, 1 out of 10” – I’ll take that! I hope that she enjoys my class and we do connect and gives me a chance but I’m not going to be thwarted if she doesn’t. This is what makes teaching a challenge – a challenge that I love. This is real teaching and I thank her (and other similar students) for keeping me on my toes and not becoming complacent.

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