Adventures in Teaching VI
Brothers & Sisters,
There transpired moments today that I felt like I was pushing Jell-O up a hill. In other words, we were getting nowhere, and the discussions that were supposed to happen in my head weren't. This forced me to dig deep, hunker down and pivot to a new approach to get this bunch of seventh-graders to wake up from their weekend slumber and participate. I learned a lesson quickly today that you never know what each day is going to bring and as a teacher if you're unable to pivot into something that gets your class going problems are going to arise.
The questions I started asking were far less extensive and much more pointed. I decided we can start there and gradually move our way into discussions of more in-depth topics and start using the thing located between our ears. To my amazement, it worked! Near the end of class time, we were having the conversations that I had envisioned we'd have at the start of class.
I assume some teachers might look at this day as a lost one. You might not have been able to get through all of the content you wanted to or are left wondering where the passion of this class had gone to. These are all valid ways to look at the day but don't actually help you in any way. Instead, let's see what you discovered. Being able to pivot into something new is a life lesson that everyone needs to learn at some point or another. We're all confronted with decisions we need to make quickly for the betterment of ourselves or a group we're working within, and if we can do this with confidence, it'll put the people around us at ease.
So how do you pivot confidently? First and foremost understand that there's a non-zero chance your pivot will fail. It's the people who are great at realizing they are falling, catch themselves and move onto something else that will always be successful. Secondly don't go down a path you know you're going to be lost in. This has catastrophe written all over it and could be a success if you give it some more thought. The problem here is that you might not have the time to give it more consideration. That's fine, put it in your back pocket, write it down and revisit it when you have time if it still applies. Even if it doesn't currently apply, make a note for the next time. Third, pivot with confidence. If you don't trust your decision how can you expect anyone else to do so? Have faith in the judgment you made, and it'll bear plenty of fruit.
Most significant of all my friends have faith in yourself.