Teachers - Be Willing to Try

If we're not willing to try new things, why should our students?

Today's classwork involved writing a response to a prompt - If you could march to change the world, would you? What would you like to change?

I asked for two paragraphs, which, at 6th grade, should not be a big deal. However, many of my students are struggling readers and writers. Many are reluctant. Some, you could argue, are nearly illiterate.

And others are just slow. So slow that it takes some a half hour to compose a single sentence. Waiting for these students is agony. Good teachers know that you need to take time for students to answer questions, to think and to process.

But it is so FRUSTRATING to wait that long. In the end, we just can't in many cases. We don't have enough time in a class on a good day, and much less so when there are a few students who are taking forever to answer a simple question.

One of my girls asked if she could use the voice to text option on her writing assignment. She's one of my slow typers. My immediate reaction was to say No, because it's just a gimmick, right? She's going to play with the thing.

But I said "Yes." I gave her the benefit of the doubt and decided to see what she could do. Funny enough, after a few minutes, she brought me back not two but three full paragraphs that had a lot of detail. They weren't spectacular paragraphs. She's ain't Dickinson.

It removed a barrier between her and her answer, the medium of her hands that betrayed her thoughts.

The student felt empowered. She was able to speak a reply that filled the page for her. It removed a barrier between her and her answer, the medium of her hands that betrayed her thoughts. She can speak and think as quickly as anyone, but putting those hands and the keyboard between her thoughts and her voice slowed her down terribly.

She brought me her completed paragraphs, and while they weren't great, as I said, they were something. I was proud of my student. She was able to complete her assignment on time. It's a starting point, and I told her so. Now we can focus on cleaning up her prose to be more presentable. Instead of having little to know work completed, now she can complete that work and we can work on fixing the syntax.

Be willing to try. We have these amazing new resources and we're afraid to use them, or say no automatically. But as a teacher, we need to be ready to change things about how we work and how our classrooms work. Be willing to try.

Jeff Hewittteaching, education, tips