Sometimes, all it takes between what we as teachers perceive as a great lesson and a bad lesson is a matter of perspective. I'm writing this post because this is something that I personally struggle with a great deal. Before lessons, I am usually guilty of setting goals for the upcoming time period. There are things I want to accomplish, projects to be finished, new projects to be started...
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with setting goals! But there is something wrong with beating yourself up if you don't actually accomplish all those goals in each lesson.
I have a student who has been a real struggle for me this year so far. His level of energy and lack of constant focus in lessons have been a source of stress for me each week. As I set my goals for his upcoming lessons each week, I found myself approaching the lesson each successive week with more and more of a sense of despair. I knew that no matter what, the goals wouldn't even be remotely accomplished because half of my time would be spent trying to re-gain focus. And the entire day of lessons would end on a sour note as I reflected on that one lesson and what a failure it had been.
Not good!I knew that I needed to change my approach, so this week I decided to try something radical (for me at least!) :) . I approached his lesson with no expectations, no goals, no thoughts of "we have to accomplish x, y, and z...". Rather, I just let things happen. I worked with what I had. We spent the lesson engaged in more activity- jumping back and forth between the piano and keyboard, changing up the usual format of the lesson, throwing in some new stuff...and the lesson ended up being much more successful. Was the child more focused? Not really. What had changed was my approach to the lesson. I decided that success wasn't really based on accomplishing goals, but more on finding creative ways to engage and help this student experience success. The result was that I ended my day of teaching with a much more positive attitude, rather than starting my week off feeling like a failure.
As teachers, having goals and expectations are definitely important. But there are also times when those same goals and expectations can get in the way of a truly successful teaching experience. Sometimes all it takes is a small change of perspective to make all the difference! Have you ever dealt with this in your teaching experience? I'd love to hear your stories of success and tidbits of advice on how you overcame a difficult situation like this and made it a positive one!