The first two weeks of school are officially over and I have already had that “light bulb” teacher moment with my students this year. The blog that I am writing today is going to be very hard for me but I think it will not only help me reflect but help me grow as a teacher.
Yesterday, I made a mistake; I was really harsh to one of my classes…I REGRET it. We were doing our first lab of the year. A lab that would teach the students about the process of scientific inquiry and design. We had gone over what scientific inquiry was, how to plan an experiment, how to identify the variables, and how to collect and analyze the data. We even have a HUGE interactive word wall that breaks down each part. As I am teaching these parts the students are shaking their head and answering questions like they TOTALLY understand everything I am teaching them. We move on. It was now time for the lab. I broke down the procedures. We read them together and I was modeling how to do each part. I then set my expectations and reminded them of the safety rules. They all start the lab and that’s when everything went sideways. Students were doing the opposite of what I said, they were fighting in their groups, they were spilling graduated cylinders of water right and left, and they are not following procedures-I became so frustrated with them–and they knew it. Never in my short 5 years of teaching have I ever been sooooo totally obvious with how frustrated I was. Instead of just stopping the lab and talking to the class about what I was seeing; I was trying to put out every individual “fire” on my own, moving from table to table; getting more and more frustrated.
I struggled with how I handled the situation and how I talked to my students all last night. I was not proud of myself as a teacher and I was not proud of how I responded to it. I didn’t know what to do. How would I fix this? How would I repair my classroom back to where my students felt safe to make mistakes but also address some of the mistakes they made as well?
Well today I laid all my cards on the table. I started class off by apologizing for my actions and how frustrated I was with them. I explained to them what I should of done instead of what I did. I then explained to them why I got so frustrated with them. They seemed super receptive and even some of them said “Miss. Kitchens–you didn’t get THAT mad…we did make a lot of mistakes too”. We had a heart-to-heart as a class. As a teacher; I wanted my students to see that you should always own up to your actions no matter what the situation may be. As for myself; I learned that repeating your instructions 2395715789 times and getting frustrated with the students when they don’t understand…DOESN’T SOLVE ANYTHING. Today ended up being a MUCH better day and I felt like a MUCH better teacher. My students used yesterday as an example of “what not to do in a lab” and learned from it…as did I. I am grateful for each one of my students and am so excited to learn and grow with them this year as their science teacher!!