Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #14
Not everything goes according to plan. Adjust for that.
I think this is one of my strongest skills, but it’s one that took a very long time to acquire.
Early on, if the students weren’t buying in or the lesson was going particularly well, I would just knuckle down and force my way through the lesson, students be damned!
Now, though, I have enough tools and skills built up that I can adjust the course as things fall apart or don’t go according to plan.
An anecdote that illustrates this is one of my favorite Ziglar stories (I’m channeling this from Seth Godin though) - if you take off in an airplane from Minneapolis to Dallas and right over Iowa, you run into some bad weather, the plane doesn’t turn around and head back to Minneapolis. It adjusts the course and detours around the storm.
This is exactly how teaching goes most days.
Last year I was introducing my CC 2 students to their first APA papers.
I had a simple plan, give them two terms to look (taken from Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”). They had to find out what the term was and summarize it using one direct quote. Then type it all up in the APA style - cover letter, abstract, paper, bibliography.
After about five minutes, I saw everyone was lost and confused.
I didn’t plow straight through as I would’ve in the past (only to have to re-teach everything over the next couple weeks).
Instead, I had them stop everything and watch me as I went to my computer, opened up a Google Doc, shared it with them all, and then began typing my APA paper for them to see.
It was far more effective to take that little detour (which ate up the whole block as tons of questions poured in, mainly over why you have to have a running head on the first page and then just a header the rest of the way . . .), but it was so worth it in the long run.
So don’t be afraid to adjust the course, back track, re-teach, or take a little side adventure every once in awhile.