My name is Rebecca Frostad, and I am a 36-year-old married mother of one precocious 20-month-old. We are currently working on immigrating to Canada, where my husband is from. I have been teaching with Qkids for a year, and it has been an exciting and growing experience. I hope that my posts will be something that readers can find amusing, enlightening, and relatable.
Have you ever had that class where it seems that no matter how hard you try, it doesn't go right? A student is having a rough day and decides to be uncooperative in class, the media connection keeps failing, or a child has the worst echo ever? You give all that you can give, and yet you just know those red tags are coming your way.
You can be an amazing teacher, but one student's attitude makes you wonder (in the words of Mulan's grandmother):
We've ALL been there. So what do you do about it? In the end, there's only one thing you can do after the fact: move on from that class.
The other day was a perfect example. It started with Student A not responding to me at all (he had his face in the video for maybe a 10-second stint for the WHOLE class period) and Student B having no audio or video feed. Not a good combo, especially in phonics. You kind of need to hear the students to help them properly pronounce the sounds. I wish I could say it improved from there, but you can probably guess that it didn't. By the end of class, it took all of my power to not grump at Student A. I tried to not let those feelings color my rating for him, but I also wanted to give him an honest score.
I don't know about you, but whenever that sort of thing happens to me, I feel like I'm a balloon with the helium sucked out of it, or like a kite trying to fly on a calm, still day. In a word: defeated. I could have just thrown up my hands, embraced the annoyance that I was feeling, and carried it into all of the classes that followed. It can be really easy to let that kind of thing steal your energy and enthusiasm, especially if-- like me-- you feed off of the energy of the class to keep it fun.
So I had a choice: do I let the first class of the day ruin all of the rest, or do I let it go? In spite of my feelings, I decided that I would give the next class crazy energy. The kind of energy that you need sugar and/or caffeine to power. Do you know what? It was a BLAST. Four kids-- one of whom I couldn't see-- engaged, laughing, and full of joy. That class was the highlight of my day, and it almost was snatched by the disappointment of a single class.
Believe me, I know that it isn't easy. While still writing this, I saw that someone had slapped me with some red tags a couple of days ago. I barely even remember the class, and I certainly couldn't remember anything happening that would have warranted that many red tags. I was again tempted to let it ruin my day, but I chose to not do so, and I just got out of one of the most fun classes I've ever taught because of it.
What can we do to make sure that one bummer class doesn't spoil the lot? I know there are lots of great suggestions (this list is in no way exhaustive, so please share some of your best ideas in the comments section below!), but these are some reminders that have helped me:
You've got this. Seriously, after a difficult class or seeing red tags, I feel a huge dose of Impostor Syndrome (that voice in your head that says that you really aren't any good at this and should just stop pretending). It helps tremendously to just take a breath and remember that my classes are by-and-large enjoyable for the kids I teach.
Sometimes, kids are just having a rough day. They are little humans that don't necessarily have the skills to deal with big emotions and stress. In the end, it might not be about you AT ALL. This is something I have to remind myself to consider with my almost 2-year-old. Emotional regulation is a learned skill, so we sometimes need to toss them some grace.
Some students just don't jive with some teachers. We do our best to teach and give these kiddos a great experience, but as we might not have ever met them before, our approach might not be for that particular student. Have you ever had a friend that just raved about someone like they were the best thing since Nutella, only to meet them and wonder what your friend could possibly see in them? What might be one kid's favorite teacher might be another kid's least favorite.
You can't wow everyone in thirty minutes, but don't let a bummer thirty minutes kill the whole rest of the day. We only see most of these students for thirty minutes, and they only see us for the same. It's a little like speed dating, except in this case you have thirty minutes to keep the attention of 1-4 kids while speaking a foreign language. No easy task!
Choose joy. It sounds like a bumper sticker slogan or some wall art on the same lines as “Live Laugh Love”, but it is a serious choice. After a rough class, it is easy to let frustration get the better of you, but making the conscious decision to let it go makes SUCH a difference!
Ultimately, I hope what you take away from this blog article is to not let a less-than-stellar class steal all of your passion for doing the awesome thing we do. You got this, so let's dust the dirt off and get back in there, ready to rock the next group!!
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