Thursday, January 19, 2006


A Learning Experience

Saturday, July 30, 2005

As a teacher, I empathise with my students and try to understand their emotional problems in addition to their academic problems. However, in one particular case, I was concentrating so hard on the academic aspect that I had paid very little attention to the emotional aspects.

I had called the student in on a Saturday, to work with me on a one on one session as there was a test on the following Monday. It was to be a three hour session, with breaks in between. After about an hour of concentrated(?) study, the student asked(begged would be a bettet word) for a break. Spying, a Scrabble set on the table, the student asked if we could play the game. I readily agreed (I needed the break too!) As we played, the student in question made a word that made no sense to me. We argued.... "hey! , no making up words of your own!" "Miss, I swear to god, I heard this on cartoon network". "You sound like my son, he does the same whenever we play Scrabble!" and then the bombshell!!!.. "Miss, your son is very lucky" and my flippant rejoinder, " Yeah! he gets to learn math from me!" "No, miss. He's lucky he has a mother who can play scrabble with him." Good God! There I was, all of my superior wisdom and experience fallen flat. Not knowing how to respond to the innocent remark of a twelve year old.

This however, turned out to be a major breakthrough in my relationship with the student. A private person who had never mentioned any personal tidbits... Slowly I began to make more opportunities to discuss the students interests and aspirations during my sessions. I began to concentrate more on the emotional aspect than on the academic.Talking about hobbies brought a glow to the child's face. I was even able to teach ratio and proportions using the context of this hobby....... Even the need for learning the topic could be conveyed by associating it to the hobby. Both of us became more relaxed and the sessions became more enjoyable.

Understanding the emotional state and circumstances of a student affects the planning process, the mode of delivery and even the time you choose to spend on an activity.Though I did not connect it to terms like context and content,I realise now how the context influenced the content.This experience has also made me decide to take time off and concentrate on the child before me (his or her interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes.......) even before I think of his or her academic needs.

# posted by Raji Nair @ 3:16 AM 3 comments
Post a Comment On: ppseraji "A Learning Experience"
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Shuchi said...
Raji!!! What a beautiful story and colorful, too! (I am so glad you experimented with inserting a picture as well playing around with the formatting.)
All students bring an "emotional" context into the classroom that affects the learning and what you teach and how you teach it. The fact that you recognized this issue and addressed it by designing the curriculum accordingly is awesome!
I guess this is the challenge for all teachers who wish to be sensitive to the backgrounds of their students - a challenge that becomes bigger when one is working with big numbers of students.
Well done on the blog, Raji!

2:19 AM

Tara Kini said...
Raji, I was moved to tears when you narrated the comment from your student. I, too, have very often ignored the emotional needs of my students when I have got carried away with the academic aspect of the lesson. It is this attention to context that makes a teacher special. It is this going the extra mile that enables a teacher to make a difference in a child's life and it is this that makes all the toil of a teacher's burden so completely worthwhile!

PS: I love Scrabble too! Shall we have a PPSE scrabble session?

11:36 PM

udaykarpur said...
i fully agree with you, as teachers we always have to carefully pay attention to the emotional needs of our students which enables us to teach them in a better way!!

12:24 AM

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