I know that 2020 has been a year of discomfort. And that’s not okay, but in reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, I was kindly reminded that some of the greatest opportunities for growing and learning come from uncomfortable situations.
When speaking to her students about vulnerability and shame, Brené warns them ahead of time, “If you’re comfortable, I’m not teaching and your’re not learning. It’s going to get uncomfortable in here and that’s okay. It’s normal and it’s part of the process” (Brown 203).
This warning made me smile because it reminded me of the supply lists for incoming students to my English I class. After typing up and printing the nice, neat lists, I would carefully (in the scariest handwriting I could muster) write “FEAR” in red ink at the top of each list.
You can only imagine the delight I experienced in seeing the eager faces and ready hands grab at the waiting lists from the holder outside my classroom and then the quick flicker of surprise as that word“FEAR” registered in their already-panicking minds.
On August 23rd I began my teaching journey at State Tech. My lesson plans were written, my Introduction PowerPoints ready to go, syllabi were photocopied, and my broom was ready to fly. (More about the flying broom will be discussed in later posts.) What I was not prepared for was the openness my students would show towards learning.
To kick things off in my COM 101 course, I created a grammar pre-test. It was important to know what grammar skills my students possessed. It consisted of 15 multiple choice questions and was not for a grade.
Within a minute or two of starting the test, I could see frustration forming on the faces of my students. After four or five minutes, their grumblings were audible. By the time they finished their pre-test, I could almost smell a mutiny. In my most professional and reassuring manner, I tried to persuade them it would ok.
We finished up the pre-test and headed back to our regular classroom. I observed head shaking and defeated student reactions as I followed them. I had just learned that grammar was not my students’ strong suit.