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field notes 1

mencabo's picture

Knowing How to Wait

           Last semester I was placed again at School A, my placement since Spring of 2011. An advantage to this is that I can continue to build a good relationship with the students and faculty and I even get to see the students grow, literally. Being a part of a school means you begin to really get a sense of the person behind the image of a student. You can predict how some students behave if they are having a good time in school and also how they will react if they are having a hard time. As a teacher, building good relationships with your students is a continuous goal. Your reaction to a student in certain situations can either propel your relationship toward the positive route or the not-so-favorable way.

               This is an excerpt from my field notes last semester that highlights one particular moment:



4th period

11:45 a.m. – 12: 40 p.m.


I mainly worked with Cathy (pseudonym). I know her from last year and she and I get along well. She was upset today, but I didn't pry into it. I just helped her think through the theme of her book by conversing with her. I asked her to first tell me about the character/story and then I pulled out some ideas from her description. Eventually we arrived at the question of identity and individuality.


Teacher D made some announcements and said that Cathy and a few other students have to skip recess because they didn’t do their homework.


Cathy gave me a hug and thanked me before heading off to lunch. 





I understood why she was feeling low, but I didn’t want to bring that up. I just did my job and it seemed to have a better effect on her. Since she gained a clearer understanding of the theme, it at least helped her feel better about her work.







It was a nice way to say goodbye. I told them that I would try to visit next semester.


            Moments like this one can test a teacher’s interpersonal skills. I was glad that I made the decision to be patient and to just keep things on task. From what I could remember, Teacher D sort of scolded her about her work/work ethic in a way that was visible to other students and so that caused her to “shut down” for the rest of the period and feel less motivated to work. Had I asked Cathy the question, “What’s wrong?” or “what’s the matter,” I might have pushed her further away from her class and her work. Yes teachers should care, but sometimes waiting for the student to respond and not prying into their feelings is the more respectful and conducive approach.   

            Teaching is more than getting through the course contents and the academics; it is rooted in social interaction and relationships. And since each student is different, a teacher faces the challenge of continuously shapeshifting her communication style.