This was created as a skit, but I really like the way it illustrates the sense of frustration many students must have while sitting in our classrooms, knowing that they are never going to ‘get’ our subject. It brings back unpleasant memories for me of classes in I was in a student in, in both secondary school and college. I can still remember my maths teacher shouting at me when he realised that I didn’t understand anything he had covered for the previous two classes. By the time I realised I was lost it seemed too far in to acknowledge it, so I just sat there hoping it would all click into place. It never did.
How likely is it that a well-meaning student in your class will put their hand up and admit that they are lost?
One technique which works from time to time is to issue students with ‘traffic-light’ cards. These consist of a set of three cards; red, orange and green. If the student is following everything you are saying then they put out the green one, if they are a little unsure they put out the orange one, and if they’re lost they leave out the red one.
If you find yourself looking out at a sea of red then it’s time to re-evaluate your lesson.
It requires confidence on your part, and a little bit of courage. It also assumes the students will take it seriously, but they usually have more sense than we give them credit for.