On the other end of the "underestimating" scale, you have those teachers who grossly overestimate their students' abilities. They, too, get greatly discouraged when their various students can't seem to fathom college-level materials that have been explained in a "you should know this already" sort of fashion. "I'm challenging them," they argue, all the while facing blank stares and clueless minds in the classroom. Then, when administrators or department leaders offer some helpful re-direction, they get frustrated, down-hearted, and start talking about "leaving the profession." Whose fault is that, exactly? Know thy students, teacher.
I have seen some teachers draw conclusions about students based on hasty or cursory information like the student's appearance, attitude, or previous performance in other classes. I doubt anyone on this site does that, and hopefully it is more rare than common.
I work very hard to let students know that I think they are capable of great things; in fact, it is one of my main goals as a teacher. I have been amazed at how well students do when I see them for their potential, and not for what they are projecting, or what they have or have not accomplished in the past. My favorite type of student to work with are the kids who have always failed English classes, and come in not even wanting to try. I let them know they are fully capable of succeeding, and give them the help and trust that they need. They often succeed and come out with a very positive experience. That is invaluable, and one of the main reasons that I teach; there is nothing more fulfilling as a teacher. Every time I hear of a teacher judging a students as incapable of success simply because they haven't done well in the past, or dress in a different way, it makes me very sad, because I realize the incredible experience that both the teacher and the student are missing.
The bottom line is that if we do underestimate our students, we do them a disservice and miss out on amazingly fulfilling experiences.
I agree to a point with the original statement. While my students need high expectations from me and they certainly perform better when I encourage them to discover skills on their own, I do find that sometimes students offer so little to teachers that it is truly difficult to see what they are capable of. For example, my school district seems to do everything it can to pass students who haven't completed assignments, etc. In cases like these, I sometimes don't know what those students can do and possibly underestimate them because I have never seen their best.
It's true, and a good point/reminder to make here on this discussion board. I often forget how little I know about my students in terms of their personal potential, since I only see them for one hour per day, and so the activities and assignments I design can often be limiting to those students. Thanks for the reminder. I also think that, once we have taught for a while, we recognize patterns of student potential and behavior, and we forget that not everyone will fit those patterns.
I think your original statement depends on the lesson and the subject. Some subjects naturally lend themselves to repetitive explanation - and like post 4 - one time it just might stick. I think of math.
On the other hand, I teach English in a very student-oriented and therefore personal reaction - discovery approach. I like to facilitate ideas, but I rarely lecture and I rarely give straight answers to questions. But this is because literature and writing are so subjective and the beauty of this subject is its ability to bring so many opinions together in one place.
Patience is so necessary, especially nowadays, as too many students want the "quick fix" rather than persevering and working on their own for understanding. But, explaining only works when someone is listening.
I once read "We learn that which we must teach another," and have found this to be true. After struggling to bring tenth-grade advanced students to comprehend and appreciate The Scarlet Letter, the term was coming to an end. So, I assigned groups of 3 students to a particular chapter that they were to present to their peers, giving a brief summary and an discussion of symbolism, or character development, etc. When the students were called upon to present, several were ill-prepared, but they were embarrassed and asked to redo their reports the next day. Then, one student and her partners began in a rather pedestrian manner until the student called out,"Oh! I've just had an epiphany! I get it now!" What an exhilirating moment...Her grasp of the chapter and the novel was impressive. She had become actively involved in her own learning.
Just persevere. Refuse to surrender to mediocrity. Lord Bryon wrote, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp--else what's a heaven for?"
When I was taking college English courses, I came away from class totally impressed by my professor's interpretation of particular work of literature. When I first started teaching, that's what I tried to do with my students: impress them with MY knowledge of a work. Now after many years, I realize that that is not my goal at all. I want to lead my students to draw their own conclusions about literature, to find patterns themselves, to explore the complexities of the characters. In other words, I know that it is better not to tell but to lead, and this leading is done by subtle questioning, not by lecture. I think this relates to your discussion about underestimating our students. I need to have more respect for their ability to read, think, interpret, question, and analyze. They should not be dependent on me to do these things for them. My ultimate goal is to be impressed by THEIR comments.
I think that there's a thin and hard to distinguish line between excessive explanation and good practice. It is in my opinion absolutely necessary to explain key concepts multiple times (though hopefully not all in a row).
I think that this is not simply true of academic subjects. I remember when I was coaching volleyball and I kept trying to explain to one of my players what was wrong with her serving motion. One day, I said it for the umpteenth time, in different words, and she said "I totally got it." I think that sort of thing is natural and just has to be done -- I don't think it's an issue of lowered expectations.
I agree that some teachers choose to take the path of least resistance and resort to lecture and rote repetition, caring little whether the students learn or not. Shame on them. Others, I think, go too far the other way and spoonfeed their students in entertaining mini-bites. Both ends of the spectrum are wrong and do not represent the best of teaching or learning--and in fact make it more difficult for the rest of us. Great teaching is inspiring and challenging, motivating students to strive for excellence not just in grades but in learning. We DO often expect too little of our students
We do them no favors by making it too easy, and we owe them the opportunity to be challenged. It seems so me some teachers are afraid to make kids work, and I understand that. After all, who wants to hear the whining and complaining that may accompany a rigorous course of learning. But if students feel as if they're accomplishing something they'll be proud of having worked hard. To some degree, I blame students for being lazy and complacent (certainly they are products of their society); that makes it even more important for teachers to be passionate and inspiring and to have high expectations. Who else will ask it of them?
You sound a bit discouraged. I hope not; there really are plenty of good teachers out there who are passionate about teaching and are doing a good job at setting high expectations for their students. I'll bet you're one of them!
I certainly think this is a valid criticism, but of course every teacher and every student is different. I too know many teachers who run their classes in a lecture format (I teach at a public high school), offering the information in only one way, and blaming students if they don't understand. The teachers insist that the only way students wouldn't "get" the class is if they're not paying attention, or not applying themselves. Then I know teachers who have tried every strategy they can employ to present information, and still meet with confused students. These teachers often become frustrated, and end up "explaining and explaining", as you've said. However, students may become bored and begin acting out, compounding the difficulties in the classroom. It's always important to know your students: know their learning styles, their interests, their prior knowledge, etc. This way, you can tailor lesson plans to their strengths, offering information in the most accessible way possible.
As a student-teacher, I consider that Patience is a great virtue. We must possess and exercise a big patience to our students. We are not teaching for the salary that we will receive but we are teaching because we wanted them to grow as we wanted to be.
A student is not like a computer, easy to access and they will really remember that you'd written. A student needs constant caring, attention until it grows beautifully in different aspects and fields. They are like plants slowly growing but has beautiful buds or sweet fruits.
We teachers must not underestimate them because they will serve as a mirror on the whole teaching we do. If they did not learn a lot therefore you are ineffective teacher unless if you teach with full spirit and passion, for sure you will be the best teacher among others.
In reply to #3:
No iam not discouraged.I am a teacher who is always bursting his every blood vessels for students
Thank you for your care and share...
Sir, have you read EV. Lucas' essay 'the reason'?.Please give me some tips about the essay ....