Resources for Educators

Teaching Tip

From the Teacher’s Aide Newsletter

2020 October

Who’s Prepared for Class?

This may be more of a pep talk than a teaching tip, but it speaks to our attitudes we carry into the classrooms that affect the learning environment. I’m thinking this morning of those students who never seem to be prepared for class, or who rarely participate, or who sit in the back and don’t make much eye contact with us. You know the ones, the students who don’t seem to want to be here at all. We also tend to imagine that they aren’t really cut out for a professional career when they can barely show up mentally or emotionally for class.

The thing is, though, we do not know what it took for that student to even show up to class today. Many students have enormous obstacles to overcome just to attempt an education. They may have a special needs child, a sick parent, car trouble, employment demands, or they may be going through a divorce or dealing with a death in the family. For example, I know a student who walked 4 miles in the pouring rain last week to get to class because he did not have money for transportation and he had already missed too much class time. He wasn’t prepared when he got there, but he showed up.

I would argue that these are the very students we want in our programs. These are the students who, once they realize we truly want to help them, are able to receive our instruction in professionalism and communications. We are in the perfect position to model preparations and time management, and to demonstrate healthy boundaries and equanimity. But only if we let go of our assumptions regarding their lack of motivation and instead assume that because they showed up today they really do want to learn, despite all appearances to the contrary. All healing takes time, even the healing we cannot see that may be happening during our class time.

Let me know what you think…

​Deanna Sylvester