Day 18: Discomfort

This March I’m “slicing” a piece of my teaching day every day.


Learning requires fundamental internal changes. Reorganization and reordering of what was so we can add in new. It is a disruption in our internal state of being.  And that is uncomfortable.

Yesterday I asked students to figure something out. Alone.

Before this, I modeled. Students worked together on a similar problem. It was a culmination of years of modeling and practicing with others.  Now it was time to go it alone. Scary and uncomfortable for most.

Many students want someone there, to support, to prompt, and often to do for them. “I don’t get it” was the call for help. To which the teacher instinct in me says, “let me help.”

Yesterday, I steeled myself against my instincts and asked, “What can you do?”

That led to some blank stares. Which might translate into the fact that I have given in to their requests too readily. Or perhaps they are exquisitely skilled in seeking help.

I say. “This is your time to try. You are a reader and a writer. You have had many lessons on this. Figure it out.”

“Can I work with someone else?”

I say, “Not this time.”

More discomfort. Fidget. Fidget. Get a drink of water.

Finally, a solo attempt.

I’m cheering inside. But, I say, “What else can you do?”

More discomfort, but less fidgeting and another attempt.

“This is hard.”

I say, “And you are doing it!”

I take this lesson into the staff lounge where the conversations float toward teachers teaching new subjects, new grade levels. And out of my mouth, I hear, “I don’t want to learn that all alone. That scares me.”  I toss and turn with the prospect of not knowing. Perhaps I’ve become complacent or exquisitely skilled in my little world that makes anything outside it frightening. I am my students. How dare I not go there?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for the March Slice of Life Challenge. Read more slices here.