четвер, 13 квітня 2017 р.

Lesson with Kids: Handling the Failure

Imagine (or remember) the situation, where you are the teacher and have to deal with kids.

What Can Go Wrong During the Lesson?

  1. Teacher isn’t able to explain the material. Result: kids lose interest in the subject and may even stop listening to the teacher altogether.
  2. Teacher runs out of time. Not everything he wanted to explained reaches kids’ ears. Result: all the planning for the following lessons is messed up.
  3. Teacher explains the lesson too fast. In the end, he doesn’t know what to do with the time left.

Who to Blame?

  1. Kids who come late. Some kids showed up late, so the teacher was disturbed while presenting the material, or even started later because of waiting.
  2. Kids who behave badly. Some of them just cannot sit calmly and do whatever the teacher wants them to. They do their own stuff, talk to each other, play with their pens or toys.
  3. Plan of the lesson. If the material is too easy, it’s boring. On the other hand, if the material is too hard, the kids might not be prepared well enough to do the job. Therefore, some of them skip the lessons, others don’t do their homework, yet others are just not smart enough to get the formulas etc.
  4. Teacher who didn’t prepare well enough. Teachers also want their spare time, they can’t always produce new amazing ideas for each lesson to keep kids interested, and they also have their mindset that doesn’t allow for quick adapting to new situations.


Some time ago, I learnt that the original sin was not the disobedient behaviour towards God, but rather making someone else the reason of your own fault: Adam blamed Eve and she blamed the serpent. So I’d like to propose not to look for the bad guy here but rather to see what can be done.

Let’s start with the last point. You may think you prepared the lesson nicely, but sooner of all, you’re not the one to evaluate it. Those who listen to you are to judge. If, however, the kids are the troublemakers indeed, it doesn’t matter if they are too active, too passive, come late, or skip the lessons. There are 2 things that can help:

1) It’s about the redundant energy that searches the way out. What the teacher needs to do is to show the right direction for the energy to eject by giving out active tasks, communication tasks, and other activities that involve kids as life models. The more shy ones should participate as well but act from passive positions.

2) Much depends on being able to tell the material in an interesting way. When the teacher does just that, typically, even those who have problems with managing themselves start listening. The teacher needs to make every child feel like they are participants of the lesson, propose to make the decisions, say their ideas out loud and describe the opinion. Students should not realise themselves passive bystanders watching the boring theatre of one actor. And believe me, it might take even fewer resources of yours to prepare such a lesson where you’ll rely on the help from the auditorium.

What we haven’t tackled yet is the plan issue. The teacher can either change the plan altogether or adapt it to the needs of the kids. When both options are impossible, possibly he should change the job is still left.

An Example from Real Life

Andrii Savchuk, Ivan Godzynskyi and me were to teach together. We wrote a detailed schedule of the lesson and planned who does what.

At first, while discussing the homework*, each child would mention the most interesting and the hardest moments they’d experienced. After one of the trainers would show the new material, then the “cookies break,” a game to show how the events work in real life, and another piece of theory about events in Scratch. Then we planned to discuss the future projects for the kids. Sounds good enough for 1.5 hours, isn’t it?

The first issue we faced was that kids were talking too quietly, and only nearby people could hear them. When we were presenting the new material, something went wrong, and then something else didn’t work as expected. The new material part started taking too much time, and the goal to do all planned was at risk.

The reason for all this was bad preparation. Happened once, was obvious, will be fixed next time. But, the lesson is not about the teacher, and even not about the material. Its main goal is to inspire to create, act, and try out the subject under discussion.

In the end, we had to get rid of some part of the lesson. Which one to drop? Maybe not the theoretical material because it’s most important and kids will probably understand it without the game**? Still, we decided to do with the game. At least the little ones left the classroom feeling happy, and we were kind of sure that they would want to come back to find out more, even though the first part of the lesson was not good enough.

* Some hunting projects kids started in class, continued at home and had to make more advanced in the lesson again

** The game we played: there was a labyrinth put (drawn, made with strings or paper) on the floor. One kid would have his eyes closed with cloth so that he sees nothing. Others are the "listeners". They wait for the occasion to tell where the child with closed eyes needs to move. But one kid can say only one type of move: straight, turn left, bind, etc. As a result, one behaves as a computer and others are directions from the programmer.

Have fun with your kids and be wise :)