16 Mar Slice of Life: Are You Nervous? #SOL19 #TWTBlog
He motions for me to bend down. I readjust the mentor texts on my lap and lean in to meet his gaze. He is whispering and I can barely hear him. I turn my ear towards him trying to make out what he is saying.
Just so you know, there are a lot of teachers behind you. I think they are watching you.
I know. They are coming to learn with us.
Are you nervous?
No. Are you?
Not if you are, but maybe you should be.
Nah, I think it is going to be fun.
He nods unsure.
Ok. You’ve got this. I’m right here if you need anything. I know how we do things in this room.
His fingers continue playing with the bow on my boot and I know I am in good hands with this five-year-old.
Demonstration lessons are a big part of the work I do in schools. I often bring 10-20 educators into a classroom to observe, co-teach, or collect formative data. Lately I have noticed more people sharing concerns with me about how this might impact the students. Now, clearly bringing a group of educators on a field trip into a classroom is a disruption, but the concerns expressed are more centered on how this will impact the stress level of students. Do you think that many teachers will make the students nervous? We are worried it will be too much for them to have teachers observing. What will you do if the students notice and focus on the teachers observing? What will you do if the students are too anxious to talk?
These types of questions are becoming the norm rather than the exception at the beginning of my collaboration with a school. I am not dismissing the fact that schools have students they need to support with relation to anxiety. We always make plans for these students and I am made aware that I should not work with them individually or in a small group. I always want to respect the personal needs of a child and do what is best for them in this type of situation. The pattern I am noticing, however, is not in relation to these students, it is all students.
So here is the question I have been debating in my mind. What’s the BEST that can happen? (thank you, Debbie Miller for the reminder!)
They may experience a jitter or two. They may have a moment of awe when the entourage of educators arrive on the scene. They may say they are nervous. But here’s what will also happen:
- Students get to see teachers learning together.
- Students understand that learning is a lifelong journey.
- Students get to interact with other teachers in their school.
- Students experience a moment of nerves surrounded by supportive, caring educators.
- Students realize that having people around does not have to be something to fear.
- Students see me modeling that it is not a big deal to teach in front of a large group of people.
- Students see me make mistakes, get confused, ask for help and laugh with the teachers observing me.
It seems to me the benefits far outweigh the concerns. At some point, these students will most likely face the expectation of speaking in front of a group of people or be part of a larger group of people. Isn’t it a great opportunity for them to have their first experience be with a group of educators – people they know care about them?
I have to say it always works out. The kids forget about the adults in the room and totally engage in the experience! I learn every time I facilitate a demonstration lesson. The kids teach me. The teachers teach me. The experience teaches me. How could I go wrong? I always have some friends at my feet who have my back!
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers, and teachers here.