Skip to main content

Window Streaks and Learning


Early in my marriage, my wife and I would infrequently haul out rolls of paper towel and window spray for the detestable work of washing windows.  One of us worked on the outside and the other from in the house.
Inevitably, one of us would tap in the window and point to a streak or spot that the other had missed.  The trouble was that the person with the spot or streak couldn’t see it.  We simply needed to trust each other’s eyes, follow the pointing finger, reapply the spray and wipe a bit longer.  
At times the work leads to laughter, sometimes not.
Just this week I relearned the wisdom of this lesson again, twice: once in my classroom, once in another venue. Both reminded me of how much I need to continue learning.
The classroom application came in a class in which I had been practicing a concept that I had been teaching the students for over two weeks and which would be on an up and coming test.  Though the students could work magic with the concept in a closed context (a school context), they, without realizing it, were lost to do so in a real-life situation.  
I could see the spots on their side of the glass, but they could not.  Their vision for the concept was limited.
One student asked me when we could use this concept in everyday life.  Having shared this at the beginning of the teaching two weeks earlier, I reminded and restated the example. The class looked at me and nodded, remembering that the discussion had taken place, but that was all.
They could see the spots on my side of the glass, but I could not. I had not taught the full use of the concept.
Nodding at myself, I took a step back and asked how the class would feel about going back to the beginning, building an assortment of scenarios in which we could use what I was teaching them, breaking up into groups to practice it, and then speeding up the question and response time so they could master it.
The energy level of the room told me that the answer was yes.  The smiles told me that I had found the spot on my side of the glass and washed it away.
Together we practiced, checking in with each other.  My job was to keep sharing scenarios that were real and relative to my students.  The students’ job was to practice hard and let me know how their understanding was growing.
In the end, we could all see better.  Our window was clean.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Where are they coming from and where are they going?

The new school year has begun(a new season), and like many other teachers, I have come out of a summer planning period of imagining where I would like to see my students in several months, if not in two to three years.  As I planned, I saw specific students in my mind.  I wondered how they were experiencing life the past months and where they will be emotionally and academically.  Looking to the end, or at some projected point out in the future, I worked through the content of my teaching to try and prepare the groundwork for the next year.  It required reflection on the previous year, understanding of the students who would be coming to my class and creativity. 

None of this comes as a surprise.  In fact, teaching is only one of many professions that calls for this type of activity.  Business, medicine, law, psychology, etcetera call the professional to look back and look forward to preparing. 

While preparing, though, a theme from Genesis 16:8 (ESV) came to mind.  When Hagar had run f…

Stress

Stress
“Mr. Pickerd, I just can’t do today!”
These words fainted out of her mouth as she drooped there in front of me.
“What on earth is wrong?” I asked.

This proved to be the right or wrong question at the wrong or right time…I couldn’t tell quite yet, because what poured out for the following minute or two became a litany of stressors in the life of this young student: test here, practice over there, paper due then, work in the meantime… The list continued. She felt driven to the point of confusion, of disarray, and was no longer able to focus on the moment.

My teacher (and more so my parent) heart wanted to sit her down and help her decide which of the too many activities was or were pressing her beyond her limits, but that wasn’t what she wanted. Time to put away the toolbox. She needed to lay it all out and be heard, nothing more at the time.

If this were an isolated situation, I might be able to chalk it up to a student who has opted to take on too much. That is not the case, though. …

Water, Tea, and a Spot of Time

Life seems full of coincidences.  We run into people just after we think about them.  We hear a song in our heads and shortly thereafter hear it on the radio. Sooner or later; though, what seems at first to be coincidence actually proves to have more purpose.  
Here’s an example…  I recently read the story in John 4 where Jesus was tired on a journey.  Being near Jacob’s well, he stopped for a while to refresh himself with a drink of water.  What came as a result of this water stop was a conversation with a Samaritan woman at that well.
Coincidence? Perhaps, but what came as a result of the conversation was life.  The words exchanged there were nothing less than an example of hospitality, love, care, and a model for us to follow.
Just a few days after reading this passage, I was blessed by an encounter with a student while I was on my way to fill my water bottle.  This student didn’t have the life matters of the woman at the well, but life was indeed weighing her down heavily.  She too was…