Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Choices and Decisions

I have a fabulous intern (student teacher) working in my classroom this semester. As always, working with an intern pushes me to think more deeply about why I do what I do.

Last week one of my dramatic little darlings got quite upset. She was frustrated by some friends and when we tried to smooth things out it just made things worse. She removed herself from the situation, but in a loud, stompy way. She headed over to our 'quiet spot' and shoved the chair and desk around. I told her I would count to 3 and if she did not stop the interruptions she would have to leave our room. I counted to 3 and she stopped, but as she sat down she shoved a stack of sentence strips around one last time.

I chose to let that go. She sat at that desk and cried (an exceptionally fake cry) for a few minutes. Then she sulked for another minute or so. Then she asked me if she could return to her math. I said that was up to her because she was the one who had decided to leave her math. She went back and worked with her classmates beautifully, including numerous high fives.

How did I know to let that last shove go? Why did I make that choice? I'm not sure. I do know, however, that the countless decisions teachers make each day can be so important. I owe it to my students to think about why a given decision worked out well or didn't.

Thirteen years of teaching, of making decisions every day, have increased my batting average. More of my decisions work out well now than did ten years ago. I owe it to my intern to try to explain what I've learned in that time.


The Science Goddess said...

I'm wondering if some of those types of things (like knowing when to push and when to let things go) can be imparted in a logical way. Or, are there some elements of expertise that become almost instinctual as you accumulate experience?

Jenny said...

Science Goddess, You ask a question I've been struggling greatly with lately. And one I've been discussing with a variety of people. It strikes me as a really important question.

teachermum said...

I think you were able to let it go because of a) teacher instint
b) experience c) learning to choose which battles you want to fight.
She gave you a lead and you refused to bite.
I wish we had blogs to read when we all started out teaching.
I wish I had teacher instince like yours every moment of my day.