Learning A New Lesson About What I Already Knew

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I had a lousy day yesterday.

Today was much better even though my leg hurts more.

My PLN helped make it better.

For those who are not teachers, a PLN is a Personal Learning Network. Mine is made up from my colleagues at school and elsewhere in the New York City Department of Education along with a couple of hundred really generous smart teachers I know only through Twitter.

Those Twitter friends really came through for me yesterday by teaching me what I already knew about what to do with that 34-student 8th grade social studies class.

When the class came in at first period today  they saw a map of the Missouri Compromise on the interactive whiteboard we finally got to work (well, mostly work) early this morning, the homework for the next two days on chart paper, and heard Ashokan Farewell, a Civil War era song, playing on the speaker I bought for my iPod that I forgot I had.

The class entered in almost stunned silence. I taught a mini-lesson, we had a discussion, they did some group work, and for about 38 of the 45 minutes in the class they were engaged and participating

We still have to work on those group-work skills so we can get through a whole period, but I came away with a totally different feeling than I had when I left work yesterday.

I’m actually sorry they’re going on a field trip tomorrow and will miss our class. I’d really like to go with them and let us see each other in a different light, but since I can’t really walk much I’m staying behind.

As I thought about the difference between yesterday and today I realized that I owed a lot of the improvement to my PLN.

They didn’t teach me anything new; they just helped me remember what I already knew and couldn’t access.

And that’s when it hit me.

I couldn’t access what I know I knew because of stress, frustration, pain and other forms of dismay.

My students have the same difficulties remembering what they know, usually for much the same reasons.

All I needed was a little reminder, some sympathy, and a good dose of encouragement.

Maybe that’s all they need too.

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8 Responses to Learning A New Lesson About What I Already Knew

  1. Harold Shaw says:

    Deven – I am really glad that your day was so much better today 🙂


  2. CThews says:

    Glad that today was a better day. Just read yesterday’s blogpost tonight and came upon the update after that.

    From what I read, you are a special ed teacher…”special” in many ways. Share your joy and passion with the kids. They will love you for it and learn from you!

  3. readingteach says:

    And you’ve reminded us as well what we need to remember. I’m sorry you can’t go on the field trip. I always enjoy getting to see students in a different setting. But they can share the trip with you upon their return.

    38 out of 45 minutes of engagement? Pretty darn good stats!What lucky students you have!

  4. As they say if your life is so blue then select another color from the rainbow. Things will get better and better everyday, just lighten up. 🙂

  5. Lauren says:

    Hey there,

    I just saw your blog entry about the injury. Any news on the cause or prognosis? I can totally relate to the pain-grouchiness coefficient; sure hope it gets better quickly.

    And…did you feel a little bit like John King on CNN with the interactive white board map?

  6. […] on Twitter help a teacher tame a class of 34 unruly eighth […]

  7. Chris says:

    “I couldn’t access what I know I knew because of stress, frustration, pain and other forms of dismay…My students have the same difficulties remembering what they know, usually for much the same reasons.”

    Insiteful connection! So glad you had a successful day. I am confident you and your class will bond and continue to learn valuable lessons together.

  8. What an amazing story, Deven.

    I am impressed by your resilience and determination. The sign of a great teacher is the ability to fail and find success in failure.

    I empathize deeply with your feelings of ineptitude. I spent my first two years feeling like I could never get anything right. However, it was my strong dislike of this feeling that pushed me to try new approaches.

    I can only hope that other teachers learn from your example.

    Best wishes for a healthy recovery and I look forward to more success stories!

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