I sat in the kitchen in disbelief.
How many times had I already explained certain concepts? Over and over and over. And still, the problem was answered wrong. Frustration ensued. In me, and in the kids, and very quickly any possible real learning was now lost. I closed the book and declared a break.
As I wandered up to my room, feeling irritated, defeated, and annoyed I began to realize something about my teaching. I asked myself some questions.
Was I just teaching so that they’d put the right answers?
Was I just teaching to get to the next page in the planner?
Was I just teaching so that I felt good that they’re smart?
Then it hit me. It wasn’t about smart. Or checking off a page. Or not listening. I don’t think that child of mine believed in themselves and that they would ever do well in this part of this subject. And that lack of confidence trickled down to concepts needing to be taught over and over and over. Then, in a double-bind, the very failing to grasp a concept cemented the idea in their head that they would never get it.
I knew I needed to be more concerned with their heart and core beliefs about learning and self versus seeing them get the right answer.
That means throwing out the lesson plans, moving at a different pace, and learning different. Radical, perhaps. We motivate through checklists and agendas and schedules — what if instead it was about building up of confidence?
I was pushing so much and was irritated that they weren’t conforming to the pattern of knowledge that I, and that the world, dictated that they know at a certain point. In that frenzy to obtain knowledge there became this disconnect between education and the heart. It became dry, rote, and painful.
Instead of building up, it discouraged.
You don’t know this, you did this wrong, how come you haven’t memorized this, haven’t I told you that a dozen times already, red marks, frustration.
I’m changing how I teach. I’m going to look at my children at the areas where there’s a struggle and get to the root of it. And more often than not, it will probably come down to a belief in self that is blocking the understanding. Instead of pushing the answer, what would happen if I nurtured the heart? We can still work for the same goals — but the actual act of learning would trump any mark on the page.
I have a feeling we’ll learn more.
I believe in them. It’s time for me to show it.
Rachel lives in the half-a-year frozen land of Minnesota. She’s a Christian home schooling momma to seven fabulous kids, and is the wife to an amazing cancer-surviving husband. In January 2011 her youngest son, Samuel, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease so you’ll also find her passionate about gluten free living and Celiac Disease awareness. Between home schooling, blogging, running her family, and, of course, drinking coffee, you’ll also find her driving her girls to classical ballet or her boys to soccer. She’s passionate about seeking joy and living a faith filled, intentional life. You can find Rachel blogging at Finding Joy