Thursday, October 17, 2013

Emails From the Front - Can't Handle the Swings

Because I teach a modeling workshop class over the summer (with my amazing teaching partner Laura Ritter from Troy Schools in Michigan) I get a lot of email from participants that encounter both everyday problems and unique problems in their classrooms and at their schools.  Normally I respond and the responses end their existence in my "sent items" folder.  But I've decided to put some of the questions and responses here so that they live on in infamy.

Ben Lampe from University Ligget Schools described how he noticed that good days were very good but bad days were very bad.  

Here is my response.
“Rounders” is a great poker movie and in it Matt Damon’s character says that some professional poker players won’t play no-limit hold ’em because “they can’t handle the swings”.  I feel this way about modeling…some people can’t handle the swings!  The highs are super high and the lows are super low.  That doesn’t change; it’s a rollercoaster for sure.

But at least there are highs!  Don’t forget that any time you implement a significant change in practice there will be an “implementation dip” .  This is what happens to performance when you first try something drastically new – your overall performance drops.  And it takes some time for you to get back to where you were.  A lot of people quit during this time thinking that it is the new methods that they adopted and don’t give them time to work.  When the new methods are good there is an increase in performance which will eventually make you better than you were before.

In teaching this implementation dip manifests in our students comfort levels and our sense of doing a good job.  The problem is that it is real and we FEEL it so much!  There are still days when the kids aren’t into it and I go home frustrated and annoyed.   I still put so much of myself into it that when it doesn’t go well I lament it and blame myself…lame.

Take heart!  We’re all feeling the same things and we’ll have time to share tomorrow.

The original email is below.
One thing I have noticed about being a modeler (or at least trying) is that I have a much larger swing in the type of day I have.  Before, I just had days.  Some could be bad, but most were just fine.  Now I notice I have WAY better days than I ever used to have, but I also have WAY worse ones.  Maybe that is because I am new at this, but getting student buy in has been a challenge.  When they do buy in, the class goes awesome, when they don't I become frustrated at a level that I wouldn't have had before.

No comments: