Teaching…it’s amazing how what works one day will fail dismally the next, while the opposite can hold true at other times. The exponential interactions between the thirty-or-so students in a classroom in any given moment lead to amazing chaos-theory exemplars of human “group-think” that can de- or re-rail a lesson without warning.
I have learnt long ago to stop trying to micro-analyze these situations since as a participant in them I am completely biased and missing a tremendous amount of “background knowledge” about my students’ personal lives, what happened at lunch or over the weekend.
Instead I believe as teachers we are called to act as a “trim tab” to effect micro-change in the learning milieu that is the classroom. When we accept that we are only one human being–albeit one with a legal responsibility to act as the leader of the situation–within a community of learners we are able to instead treat our students in a humane manner that respects their dignity and our own. Respect is earned, but it must be asked for by our actions. If we as teachers fail to demonstrate respect for our students by our behavior in managing our classrooms, how can we ever hope that they will do the same?