Friday, April 20, 2012

Year 2: Week 30 – Patience

One of the traits that people often say teachers possess is patience.  There’s this idea that teachers have an inexhaustible well of patience as they work with children.  Is this really necessary to be a great teacher?

I never considered “patience” as one of my traits.  I’m flattered that people feel this way about me, but it’s not something I feel comfortable with. I guess I am pretty patient with my students.  However, I don’t really think so.

Patience is the ability to work through something with somebody in a situation that you don’t understand.  The reason I have no problem helping a student work through a musical concept is not because I have the patience to do so but because I try to understand why my students are confused. 

We get impatient with things in life that we don’t understand.  Like when a car doesn’t start or the internet stops working.  Most of the times we get frustrated in situations like this because we don’t know what went wrong and we don’t really have the tools to fix these situations.

I understand that modern musical notation is not intuitive at all.  I understand that it’s really hard for my third graders to have a recorder in their hand and not make a distracting noise.  And I also understand school is hard for kids and sometimes affording them a little compassion when they are trying to figure thing out is important.

I don’t always have the tools to help my students understand what I’m teaching, but most of the time I can figure something out.  The key here really isn’t patience but rather it’s a determination and a willingness to try to understand the confusion.

There are definitely times in teaching when expressing a lack of patience is also importance.  I let me students know when they are slipping on basic expectations like raising their hands and how I get frustrated with this issue.  They need to know that there are some things in life that they deserve patience and other things in life that they just have to get together quickly.

Teaching requires a profound understanding of children that I am only starting to develop.  It is in this understanding that we find out who our students are and the best way to help them learn.

There are times when I’m teaching that I feel frustration well up inside and I have to take a step back and try to figure out the way my students are thinking.  We don’t feel like we are being patient with people that we understand.  So instead of looking for that well of patience try to find a memory of confusion to connect yourself with the students you are working with.  

Yes, strive for patience but more importantly work to know your students and with that knowledge you will be amazed the lengths you are willing to go to help them.        

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