Endorsement

A couple of times each year I survey my students to find out what they liked and didn’t like about my classes.  Every once in a while, I see something in their comments that makes me feel really good.  This year, it was the following comment, in response to the question, “What advice would you give to future students who have Mr. Bigler?”:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!  He won’t think you’re stupid.  He’ll think you’re smart for asking, and he’ll make you call yourself smart.  Pay attention and listen to him.  He only wants you to succeed.  Have fun.

For some context, here’s a quote from my Self Esteem post from October 2011:

When my students put themselves down in class (usually because they struggle with math), I work with them until they succeed in understanding whatever it is that they’re having trouble with at that moment, and then I tell them to say “I’m smarter than I give myself credit for.”  In fact, I insist that they keep trying until they can look me in the eyes when they’re saying it, and say it in a way that sounds convincing.  Some of them do take several tries before they’re able to say it convincingly, but all of them seem to appreciate my taking the time and effort to get them to say it, and several of them commented that they should really believe it more than they actually do.

I had sometimes wondered to what extent that message actually sticks.  Clearly it did for this student, which really made my day!

  
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About Mr. Bigler

Physics teacher at Lynn English High School in Lynn, MA. Proud father of two daughters. Violist & morris dancer.
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One Response to Endorsement

  1. Boudreau says:

    Great post, Mr. Bigler! And it is very true, you are very eager to help students. If more teachers had your drive and approach in the way they educate their students, I think kids would be more motivated to succeed!

    In high-level subjects that require more critical thinking than say, a CP class, I can speak for a lot of people in saying that when we misunderstood topics in said classes, kids almost felt intimidated to ask the teacher for help, for one or more of the following reasons:
    1-It’s something that’s probably “easy” (to someone who has a good knowledge/understanding of the topic), and kids will be embarrassed to ask for help on how to clarify it.
    2-Kids don’t want the teacher to think “Geez, how does the kid not understand THAT?”
    3-Kids want to create some false confidence, where if we act like we “understand”, and try to just brush it aside, that it’ll just go away and then the teacher thinks we are smarter because we are “understanding” at the pace he/she is teaching in class, when in reality that’s not the case.
    4-The majority of the class understands, or says they understand. You could say “They may be lying” but then when kids see those students are getting 90′s and 100′s on tests, we know that those students DO understand and then kids who don’t understand feel pressure, start to feel “behind” and then lose confidence.
    I didn’t feel that way in your class and I bet very few did. #3 and #4 happened a little in the beginning, though, but that went away once I got help from you once or twice.
    As you stated, you are eager to help students and aim to get them to believe in themselves. You have a much friendlier approach to helping students than most teachers do.

    One teacher I had in particular for geometry, anytime you asked her for help, her reply was (picture Fran Drescher’s voice but more whiny) “Oh, you know it. It’s easy, come on!” (of course, that coming after a big obnoxious sigh like you were going to make her miss her favorite show or God forbid, do some teaching, as if that’s what she was getting paid to do!) when in reality, I did NOT understand what she was teaching (and that in itself was questionable – often, the kids were correcting her…..), and 4th quarter my grade suffered badly, I had about a 71 average for the quarter. And the whole quarter all she said to me when I’d mention my grades was “You’ll be fine!! You worry too much”……well, that’s the reason why! She refused to help me after a week-long illness that kept me out of school for that amount of time. My response when bombing 2 quizzes because I had NO clue on what to do was “You’ll be fine”…..no attempt or effort to do something to get me to understand.

    That wouldn’t have happened in your class because first and foremost, you would have actually helped upon my asking, and you wouldn’t have said what I quoted above or the famous “Oh come on, I have to leave!”, you would have worked through it with me. I had 26 teachers in the 4 years in high school and she was probably the only one that annoyed me at that level due to the pure laziness and lack of interest in helping.

    Guess they can’t all be winners, keep doing what you are doing!

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