Saturday, April 2

Am I so busy teaching I forget to listen?

I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my teaching. I’m always searching for new techniques to motivate and inspire. I enjoy learning new methods that I can share.
Notice all of the sentences start with the pronoun “I?”
Maybe I need to revise my thinking and explore more about the way my students are receiving my instruction.

Recently, I had an interesting experience that made me stop and reflect. I’m a never-ending beginner quilter. It is a hobby I love and helps me unwind and slow down the pace of my life. I’m not very good at it, but I make up for it with enthusiasm. Long ago, I decided that I would enjoy the process, not the product, as well as not give anything as gifts.

As part of my hobby, I take classes to learn new skills. Recently, while sitting in a class, I became confused. I didn’t understand what I was asked to do. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around the technique. It seemed backwards and overwhelming. A quick look around the room showed me that everyone else was grasping it. The class was moving on to the next step and I was completely lost. Suddenly, the room felt overly warm and I had the urge to scream, “Slow down. Wait a minute. I’m lost.” Instead, I struggled on and lost my momentum for learning.

Driving home from the class, I reflected on the experience. I was a bit annoyed with myself for not speaking up, but during the class I felt defeated, anxious and confused by the way everyone else was learning the technique. I was timid about admitting I was lost. I didn’t want the class to slow down on my account. I didn’t want my classmates to see that I was totally confused.

I didn’t raise my hand and ask for help.

I began to wonder how often this happens in my own classroom with my students. I like to think I’m in tune with my students and ask the correct questions to insure they understand. Is it possible that in the business of the day, I have students who are afraid to speak up for fear of embarrassment? Am I being as aware as I think I am? I know I use a variety of cues and lists and strategies when I teach, but am I so busy teaching I forget to really listen?

When I go to school on Monday, I’m going to remember what it was like to sit in a classroom and feel afraid to speak up. I’m going to give my students a reminder that I always want them to say, “I don’t understand. I didn’t get that. I don’t know what you mean. I need help.” I want them to feel safe enough to reach out to me.
I want to see things from their point of view and remember that they are what is most important -not a new technique, method or project.

My goal is to listen more!