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Stay The Course

Keep Calm and stay the courseThere is always a risk when you try something new. Humans are typically resistant to change, even when that change is for the better. I tell my students about the time I participated in a taste test at a mall years ago. It was between Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke. I am a Diet Coke drinker, but during the taste test I chose Diet Pepsi as tasting better. When asked if I would now buy Diet Pepsi, I replied, “no.”

Typical human. I see the same reticence in students when they come into my classes. My classes are not the typical, historic science classroom where we go over terminology in class and then have a multiple choice exam. I get my students involved in a myriad of activities, and they have to struggle to learn the terminology in context. I have them work in groups (audible gasp), with students that are different from themselves (passes out).

This semester I have a section of students that are testing my resolve. They refused to work together. Many of them refuse to come to class, and do the work that I have assigned. It has been a struggle for me to maintain my enthusiasm for this class. It seems to be a group of students so ingrained with, “you do your thing, we’ll do ours, and just leave it at that,” mentality that the inertia is almost too hard to overcome.

However, one thing that I have learned from instituting change in the classroom is this. Don’t go back. Don’t give in. Stay the course, or it will be a bigger disaster than you imagined. You did all this work to make the course better, more engaging, and meaningful, don’t throw it out now. Don’t go back to the arcane, ineffective methods. Keep them engaged and stay in the fight to give these students a better experience. Some of them will see it, and appreciate it. Here we are at week 11 and I do see progress in the student’s attitudes. But it has been a struggle.

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