Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stressful For Me Too

I love my night class.  For once, I have a room full of motivated, hard working students who are rarely absent or late.  They come to class prepared and have to be thrown out at 8:20 when the class ends.  But, they are also some of the worst math phobics I have ever met.  One told me she is seeing a dermatologist for hair loss which started when the term started.  Several others cry whenever we start a new topic, watery eyes caused by the stress of believing they will not understand.  One, who spent hours in the math lab and knew everything handed in a blank paper.  She just couldn't focus on the problems on the sheet.  I wish I had a degree in psychology to help me help some of these people.

Last night was the worst.  I handed back papers and watched one of my favorite students fall apart when she saw her grade of 58.  As her tears fell, mine fell as well.  It took a while, but I finally calmed her down and convinced her that her hard work and perseverance would win at the end and she would pass. 

I love this class but I so can't wait until it ends.  I never thought teaching motivated people could be this difficult.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really feel for these students. Is this a remedial class because I think they would benefit greatly from taking a class that allows them to start over.

Pissed Off said...

Not remedial--students are mostly pretty good too.

joycemocha said...

Relaxation exercises. Seriously. I've started doing them with my sped kids with academic anxiety and they're begging for more.

Look up Dan Siegal's "Brain in the Palm of Your Hand" analogy and teach it to them, explain that anxiety shuts down the memory neurons in the hippocampus, but that deep belly breathing activates serotonin stored in that area which will relax them and help them focus on learning.

(I'm currently adding Interpersonal Neurobiology to my toolbox and finding it quite useful....yeah, it sounds like woowoo at first, but when you investigate the neuroscience behind it, not so much)