A Clash of Expectations

Or, more accurately known as “When you’re trying to get them to really understand and all they want is notes from the whiteboard”.

I had a rather deflating moment towards the end of last week with my senior chemistry class. I was trying to get some online feedback from my students about their plans for their final year and inadvertently opened myself up to a bit of honesty that I wasn’t fully prepared for. This term has been a bit turbulent with our  schedule and we’ve had a number of interruptions that have shifted things around far more than I would have liked. The long and short of it is that we’re running behind schedule and my students are a bit worried about where they are up to. To make matters worse, they had just had their final exam and were feeling very unsure about how they were going in chemistry.

And so I ended up with a number of somewhat harsh comments about our class and my teaching style and how they just wanted to have notes written on the board and be done with it. I’d like to think that I was building confidence in my abilities as a teacher, even though I’m still new at it all. However hearing all this made me feel pretty flat and like I’d really let them down.

So know I’m torn. Should I  teach my students the way that they’re used to, even if I really don’t believe in it and know that it’s not the most effective way to really learn? Or should I teach the way that research shows works more effectively for deeper understanding, but risk them feeling alienated and like it’s not working for them? I wish I knew!

2 responses to “A Clash of Expectations

  1. The fact that your students are wondering how they are going is evidence that they are keen to learn and motivated. And you got feedback which means that they have engaged with you in their learning journey. Don’t be dispirited. You are having an impact. Even experienced teachers get less than satisfying feedback sometimes. Keep persevering. Results will follow.

  2. Students are largely used to a classroom where a teacher tells them the answer, they memorize the answer and then repeat that answer back when asked for it. When you deviate from that, students (in my experience especially the ones who are good at the classroom game) get frustrated. Trust your methods and give students some time to adjust.

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