Magazine article ASEE Prism

One of Those Days

Magazine article ASEE Prism

One of Those Days

Article excerpt

Students have bad days for all kinds of reasons. They might have had a fight with a roommate or just broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. They are also unlikely to perform at their best after a big test - either in your class or someone else's. We all know how draining a physically or psychologically bad day can be, but pedagogically difficult days can be just as problematic. So how do you cope when you or your students are having one of those days?

First, control what you can. If you know ahead of time that you're not up for lecturing - for instance, you have a root canal scheduled two hours before class - either arrange for a substitute or plan something other than lecturing, like a group exercise that will take the full period.

Plan ahead for the pedagogically difficult days. Determine alternative approaches to explaining difficult material-- role playing, modeling and simulations, and demonsrations. Be honest: Acknowledge to the students that the material is difficult, but encourage them to persist. If the lecture ends up being boring, stop talking and turn the learning over to the class.

Don't make your problem their problem. If you have a headache or hay fever, take some medicine. If you're feeling tense or anxious, talk to a friend. When you get to class, try plowing through your lecture. Sometimes simply going through the motions will get you over the hump. The adrenalin rush you get from pressing ahead may make you feel better. If you're comfortable with sharing, talk about the problem with the class. …

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