When I first started teaching, I half-seriously nodded to the sentiment that each class is different. I didn’t exactly agree. I saw the arrangement of students in my classes to be random assortments of diverse ability levels, focus, and talents. The super-focused student in one of my classes balanced the very wild one, and so forth. The lack of monotony in our rotating schedules meant that my students would not get caught in a rut of ‘post lunch food comas’ and post-recess hyperactivity – adding to their comparability. Instead, I find my classes (and, conversely my students) to be much different every single day. This can be refreshing (a certain class will not be constantly jumping off-the-walls), or exhausting. Today that felt a bit exhausting.
While there are some patterns in my classes, this is not always the case – one class can focus and understand my instructions, other classes not so much – where I find myself explaining the same instructions in slightly different ways, the same ones written in the assignments. I was so excited for this activity, a hands-on manipulation of yarn as a model of mitosis and meiosis, and finding videos online about the two processes of cell division that I forgot to make an ‘example’ for the lab the students were to complete. Mistake number one – students live and breathe examples and feel lost without them. However, when the first class I guided in the assignment excelled, I assumed they did not need an example (if anything, a detailed (longer) explanation from me). Mistake number 2 – classes cannot be compared to one another, as there are too many variables as to how they will react to my instructions. The students are not assorted randomly enough to level the playing field to make them very comparable in reactions. Instead, I find my classes to be a not-so-random assortment of students (much like the genetic linkage within DNA in real life meiosis) of diverse sets of talents, strengths, and levels of energy (and patience for me). Different classes laugh at different jokes I crack, hear different things when I say the same thing (this is why differentiation is important!) And that’s okay, as I still learn how to navigate the daily differences that come my way – I just hope I don’t run out of jokes
Today’s victory: About half of both classes were able to focus and get most of the lab done in class today (even though one class seemed more focused and full of understanding than the other) and laughed for some reason.
(see photos of the example of the lab we did today, that other classes will benefit from #learnfromyourmistakes)