Thursday, January 30, 2020


This week in T’ai Chi class, our instructor talked about how this year, 2020, is like having eyes that have 20/20 vision. This means that you see clearly, and it had me thinking about how there needs to be clarity in the classroom.

I see confusion and misunderstanding as cloudy vision. It is hard to see the big picture or even the surrounding elements clearly. When this happens, it is hard to focus on the immediate activity because I can’t see where you are or where you are going. When I get in a situation like this, it can trigger fear, anxiety, or even paranoia. Then there is no progress to be made and I just stop moving. I can’t move forward or backward.

As a teacher, I can help my students when this happens. I can let them know that they are not in this “cloudy” situation alone. I can help guide them out of the “cloud” into a clearer view. Once they can see clearly again, their fear and anxiety will lessen. But I really want to help them when the fear begins and doesn’t get out of control, so I need to stay alert and aware of my students. I need to notice their tone of voice and body language as much as I notice what they are saying.

I also need to make sure that when I introduce assignments, there is clarity in my expectations. Students need to know exactly what I’m asking them to do. Giving a rubric may help them see my expectations clearly. If possible, showing them examples might give them visual cues of what I want. Sometimes I may try out an activity with my family to make sure that my instructions are clear and not confusing. If this isn’t possible, I may try to role play as a student and follow my instructions exactly as I would give them just to make sure that I haven’t left anything out.

It is also helpful to teach students how to ask questions when they don’t see clearly. Just whining that they don’t understand and giving up won’t help the situation. Try to get them to ask questions with specific words like why, what, how, when in them. This may help them verbalize what they need help in.

Over the years, students may have seen asking for help or asking questions as a sign of weakness in front of their peers. It might help to role play situations where students need to ask for clarity. Give a situation and have the students come up with ways to ask questions that would help the student in the role play situation. The more the students practice asking questions, the better they will get at them. Soon, it will become natural and they won’t be afraid to ask them as much.

I can see this behavior spilling out into other areas of their lives outside of my classroom. They will learn how to ask for clarity in other classes and situations. Asking questions may help them in their relationships with others.

How do you focus on clarity in the classroom? Please share.

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

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