Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

Every educator should experience being a bad student

Last weekend my wife and I went and took the Seabus across the water in Vancouver to North Vancouver because she heard that someone was offering free Cha-cha-cha dance lessons. We were both excited on our trip over because both of us really like to dance. We brought our son because he likes to dance as well and we thought it would be a good experience for him to learn about a different type of dance.

As the class began I was hopeful and ready to learn. I was actively participating in the lesson and trying to get my feet to move the way the instructor intended. Unfortunately this is when the problems began. After only 3 or 4 minutes showing us the first step, which I knew was no where near enough time for this man with two left feet to learn the move, the instructor moved onto the next step.

I started to feel panicky. Then my son wanted to join us, and suddenly we were improvising steps I had learned yet. Everyone else seemed to be learning at hyper-speed! I was the only one who wasn’t having fun. I was embarrassed. We covered nearly 7 difference dance moves in 30 minutes which was 6 too many for me. I told my wife I wanted to sit down and take a break. I felt inadequate because now I was stopping her from having fun as well. I felt like a failure.

I realized later that I was having the same experience that many of our students have. They often experience failure like this on a daily basis. I can remember many of them entering class with a grin on their face thinking, "this will be the day I master this class." 

I think it will help me become a better educator as I analyze my own learning with a more critical lens and recognize that all of the characteristics of my learners are in me as well. We should think about the experiences we have had as learners and use them to understand the mindsets of our students better.