Sunday, February 25, 2007

Trial and Error

My classes are generally very loose and borderline silly. Self-deprecation and a healthy dose of respect for the kids are the main ingredients when I am cooking in the classroom.

Rarely does a class period pass without a silly moment where the kids can see that Teacher David is capable of making mistakes and that is perfectly OK. We usually giggle about it and go on. By making fun of myself and not being embarrassed about my goofiness I am showing these kids that even a teacher is fallible. I don't think that enough teachers do this, especially in this country. The mood in many classrooms is far too serious and competitive. As a result, the kids become increasingly guarded and less likely to take chances. When this happens a huge part of learning is lost. Trial and error is a major part of the learning process. If the kids are afraid to give wrong answers or take a risk, many of their questions will go unanswered. My kids tend to take more chances than others and I attribute this to my history of

**In Taiwan, you must score 80% or better to pass.**

Also, I do my best to show these kids that learning is fun and failure is temporary and often times perfectly normal. Nothing irks me more than seeing a kid breakdown as a result of a bad grade. The amount of pressure on students here is obscene. A 12 year old kid should never, I repeat NEVER cry because they got a bad grade. The tears are because they are embarrassed in front of their classmates and they know they are going to catch hell when they get home. To alleviate these pressures, I usually grab the kid prior to the start of class and discuss the issue with them in private. I think this is the best course of action because being a teenager is tough enough without the loss of face in the classroom due to of bad grades. There isn't much I can do about eliminating the use of corporal punishment at home...that's a whole different ball of wax that I don't care to think about, makes me too angry. I know that this sounds like I am making it too easy on these kids, but it's worked thus far.

If you were to come and watch my class Monday, you would see that I am leading a group of wonderfully bright and often times silly kids. My students, especially my 1093 class, are probably louder and more talkative than most other classes. I take that as a sign of comfort. I want them to think as a group, be friends as well as classmates. As a teacher, you are responsible for setting an example. Ten years from now I hope that these kids will look back and remember that Teacher David showed them that it's OK to make mistakes. I hope I am helping create memories of a healthy classroom environment. Learning is one of the most important things in life, and so is laughter.

p.s. My methods are working...1093 averages about 95% across the board. 1106, my newest class, is at about the same level. Since taking over these classes, I have retained 100% of my students.

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