Today’s Teachable Moment

I have an honest post coming at you tonight.  I’m feeling somewhat unorganized and a bit scattered lately.  Usually I take my Wednesday post inspirations from various pictures I’ve taken throughout the week, but this week I don’t even have a picture or image lined up to attach to this post.   Things have been going relatively well in my class academically, socially and emotionally.  We launched right into term three and we are working harder than ever in science and French (fun lessons and successes to come next week).  Hip-hip-hooray!

And then today ended on a bad note.  Something was written on the whiteboard in my class over lunch hour.  I don’t know who did it.  I actually don’t care who did it.  All I care about is that it happened and not one of my students did anything about it.  Actually, that last part is misleading, one of my students TOLD me about it at the start of last block today, an hour and a half after it was up for the entire class to read.  Note: I didn’t see it on the board at first because it was written in the same colour as everything else and I’m just not that focused on the board all of the time.  I guess it’s safe to say my students aren’t either, because not all of them caught on right away.

My heart sank as I faced my class, mentally preparing to give my students a serious lecture on inclusion, tolerance and community.  Internally I was fuming.  My mind was screaming, “How can this be happening? We’ve come so far!” And then I laid down the law.

I’ve only ever seriously raised my voice to a class twice in my short teaching career.  I chose to go the quiet and controlled route in today’s lecture; I feel like my students take me seriously when I am extremely to the point and unimpressed (which I was).  A theme in our school surrounds the question of “Who do we want to be?”  I think this is a great question to ask people because, in my experience, it helps align and focus one’s goals (academic or extracurricular).  So, in light of today’s whiteboard incident, I asked my students this question.  And then I asked them what they can do to make make themselves better?  I used myself as an example, which isn’t always the best thing to do as a teacher but I was scrambling for control of the conversation.  I told my students that every day when I come to work I am asking myself what I can do to be a better teacher. A better listener. A better planner. I’m asking myself what I can do to do make science more fun. To make French more accessible to all learners.  I’m also asking myself how I can be a better wife, friend, sister, cat owner? (I got a few chuckles on that one). I’m constantly seeking greatness in all that I do, not because I want to be perfect, but because I know I can be better.  I received some wide-eyed stares after that rant.

I asked my class what they could have done to make the situation we were currently in better?  Some suggested erasing the words immediately, telling a supervisor/teacher immediately, questioning the person who did it (if they knew).  I agreed.  And then I asked them why in the world they chose to be bystanders? Again, blank, wide-eyed stares.  One brave, darling soul raised his hand and confessed, “Mrs. Alleyn, you are a great teacher, but despite that we are still so mean to each other”.  I looked around into everyone’s eyes and my heart crumbled.  We have worked very hard in our class to create community and this was just a big slap in the face to me and my students.  But my brave student was right.  They are still so mean to each other…sometimes.

So, I left school today feeling disheartened.  Uninspired.  Sad.  Mystified.  It’s April and we’ve reverted back to October issues.  I have no idea how to fix this and I’m not certain I can fix it, actually.  I just want my students to finish off the year together on the same page while taking some happy memories with them.  They know that because I told them that today.

My students’ homework tonight is to think about how they can be better than they already are…and then, after we discuss that topic, I plan to ask them what they’re most proud of lately.  I’m hoping my positive approach to this negative situation will make me a better teacher and show them that big problems do not need to always be dealt with through yelling and punishment.  Hello, teachable moments.

2 thoughts on “Today’s Teachable Moment

  1. The daily work you have done, and I am sure it’s nothing short of a miracle, may not affect these students NOW… it will take time for them to assimilate, accept and make changes to their being…BUT it will… you will be the one they think of when they are in difficult situations, and their own teachable moments…take a breathe, pick yourself up, and start all over again. I too am having such a feeling, thanks so much for sharing yours.

  2. Pingback: Yesterday’s Teachable Moment | Tale of Two Teachers

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