Sometimes the solution is obvious, and yet you can’t see it

Tom Hierk shared this advertisement at the keynote address in Prince George on Friday. I keep thinking about it.

Sometimes we are so stuck on riding the escalator that we cannot see any other way out. Still, the power is in our own hands to find our way.

The solution is really to not stopping to look for solutions.

I am struggling with the behaviour of a certain student right now, and I have truly “tried everything”. However, it will not do either of us any good for me to stop and just start shouting about how the situation is completely hopeless. Well, let’s be clear. Some days, when my room empties out, I may engage in a little teeth gnashing and foot stomping that would rival a toddler’s.

I do have to say that in this case, the student is not making it impossible for others to learn on a continual basis, so I do have more latitude for figuring out how to get him engaged. We’ll just have to keep trying; I will not abdicate my responsibility. Hopefully, eventually, neither will he.

Great expectations

The constant struggle for me as a teacher is to figure out what will work with a student who is disruptive to the classroom. As I work to figure out what the root cause is, I also have to keep the classroom working. To push, or to pull back? To cajole, encourage, distract, reprimand? To lower expectations, to raise them? With some students I’ve tried every trick in the book. Each day, I wonder, did I push too hard, not hard enough, has it gone on too long, or will tomorrow be the day we crack this one? It’s gut-wrenching for me when I finally have to say to a student, comply with these things, or you can’t stay.

I always tell them, “Because I believe in you, I have high expectations. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t push you. Expect more from yourself!”

Today, a student asked to be let back in. It felt like a major victory. Maybe it was only for today, but in this job, sometimes we have to measure success in millimetres.

As my colleague pointed out today, “If we don’t have high expectations for them, why would they have any for themselves?”

Here is a video I watch when I want to remind myself about the importance of idealism and very high expectations. Incidentally, Victor Frankl is a concentration camp survivor.