February 28, 2011

Transitional Moments

As a teacher, you live for the transitional moments when students evolve. Today I was lucky enough to experience three such moments. My teaching days on Mondays run from 8am to 7:45pm and the traditional moments were perfectly spaced throughout my day.

The first moment was at the end of my morning class when just one of the students and I were still in the room packing up our belongings. The student said to me, "you know what, I like what we are discussing. Next quarter I graduate and I would like to pursue this as a job focus." Wow! Fantastic! During the class I noticed that the student was catching on to the concepts and presenting some very sophisticated ideas. I told the student I had noticed this and their eyes lit up.

The next transitional moment occurred on the elevator between classes when I ran into a student from a previous quarter. This student told me that they had figured out how to balance their workload and get A's. Three classes was the perfect balance and they had recognized what work with that mix and were trying to increase their load to four classes with all A's. "I'm keeping my eye on the end goal" said the student - we had discussed goals in their class.

My evening class had the third transitional moment. A student with a big personality had been wavering between adding to and distracting (as well as detracting) from the class with their powerful presence. I talked to the student before class and said, "you are a leader in this class and set the tone. How can we use your powers for good?" The student came up with some ideas and in class they demonstrated their positive leadership. Other students who were on the fence responded to the this student's new focus and were also more engaged.

For me, these interactions were also learning experiences. I am recognizing when to step in, step back and step aside. Perhaps this an evolution of my work as a teacher. Confrontation is not easy for me and I believe that I embraced my personal values of open-heartedness and helping people reach their dreams to be successful. Plus, I found my grounding.

Every day is a learning experience as a teacher.