Things I Will Never Understand About Teaching…
There are a few things about teaching that I’m sure I will never understand. I’m sure that no matter how much science I did and no matter how many la-BOHR-uh-tor-ees I put together, I will never find the answers to the infinite unknowable. And though I was once a teenager, apparently I was an oddball, because for the LIFE of me I never did some of the things that my students do.
That said…things I will never understand about teaching:
- Why do kids stand in inconvenient places?
- If there is a doorway, students will stand in it. Why? Furthermore:
- If there is a hallway, kids will clump up in the middle of it, blocking off the arteries of the school like…cholesterol.
- If you are cleaning your classroom, walking from desk to desk, or obviously walking back and forth between your desk and the whiteboard, the kid talking to you will follow you back and forth, and you will trip over them several times before telling them to just sit down somewhere and tell you what they want you to know.
- Do they want you to yell at them? My grandmother used to ask me this question all the time, and now I understand it. It does not matter how many times you ask them not to, they will. Until you yell at them. And then they will look hurt.
- I suppose that my father would say ‘If there is a doorway, Alicia will leave it open and attempt to air condition the neighborhood.’ Perhaps I shouldn’t complain too much….but WHY oh WHY must they stand in the middle of the doorway?
- Who came up with the rule that “if my bookbag is in the classroom, but I’m not, it means I’m not late”? Because they always look confused when I tell them that this is not a thing.
- Likewise, who came up with the rule that when your teacher says “take off your headphones” all you need to do is pull one out of your ear? It is not okay to talk to people with one headphone dangling out of your ear. This is not a thing!
- Why don’t we do more to encourage/teach kids to think? Thinking is hard and unpleasant work for those who are not accustomed to it.
- If you want students to learn, you should ask them to think.
- If you want students to “be good”, you should give them a worksheet.
- Students may not like worksheets, but they do like the certainty of knowing what they are doing.
- For some reason, they can’t learn and “be good” at the same time.
- I’m always nervous when my students are “being good”.
- Students enjoy hard work. So why do they complain when they have hard work?
- They want structure. They want to learn. They don’t want to be spoonfed information. They would prefer to be learning than napping on their desks.
- All of the above observable facts are contrary to what their whining would have you believe.
- Kids, though not always well behaved, are generally good. Why do people think kids are bad? Worse yet, why do people tell me that my job is noble or that they wouldn’t or couldn’t do it?
- Saying something to the entire class is less meaningful than saying the exact same thing to individual kids. Similarly, writing down instructions word-for-word is much less meaningful than reading them directly to the kid. Why must I repeat THE EXACT SAME INSTRUCTIONS to students at their desks that I gave the entire class?
- Kids will say that they don’t understand something…and then when you ask them what they do understand, they will repeat the exact assignment back to you. What is THAT all about?
- Why do kids think that when their diction and spelling suddenly improve dramatically in a paper that somehow you won’t get suspicious and catch their plagiarized work?
- Why are kids surprised when they fail a test or quiz that they fell asleep on? Furthermore…why are they surprised when they aren’t allowed to make it up?
I might add that if I did understand these things, I would be able to harness this knowledge for the powers of good…and an awesome book deal. Am I the only one who deals with these issues? Has anyone figured out the answers? Ron Clark? Harry Wong? Anyone?!