“Declare it a success and move on.” Those are the very wise words of one of my professors, Dr. Ken Peterson, at Portland State University. Initially when he said that he was speaking of the importance to always have a back-up plan for lessons that may go awry and he was also stressing the importance of certainty in a teacher. At that time we all kind of chuckled as we found it a little humorous that instead of honestly admitting failure to the students that we would actually tell a fib – to make us look better? No, I get it now.
This past Thursday I did lesson #2 for the 1st grade class for the Exquisite Prompt Writing Challenge. I decided to work on the idea of the rough draft and also introduced a mind map for brainstorming. They all got the idea of the rough draft, but the mind map concept was lost on about 85% of the class. As I was modeling the mind map/brainstorm process I could almost hear, “Wah wah wah.” Would they have benefitted from me stopping and saying something like, “Well, that didn’t work.” Definitely not. I powered through, cut it short, and we moved on – all with certainty. (Thanks Ken!) The students taught me so much: the need to break it down to the simplest form, model a process, walk them through the process step-by-step, and still expect most to not completely get it. …and it is okay. At first I wondered if my time in the classroom benefitted any other than myself. The answer is most assuredly yes. They were exposed to new concepts, they are writing, and they will continue to write.
I certainly appreciate the classroom teacher, Mrs. Nelson, for inviting me back to her class and allowing me to take up some of her teaching time. Just the simple act of allowing me into her classroom to teach a mini-lesson takes a great amount of trust on her part. My sincerest thanks!
Image attribution: Monopoly Cowboy by therichbrooks, http://www.flickr.com/photos/therichbrooks/4040172828/in/set-72157622628840232/