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Repeat After Me "I Don't Know The Answer"

Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a show of interest and a stepping stone on our way to a better version of ourselves...

By Conner SkaggsPublished 5 months ago 3 min read
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Repeat After Me "I Don't Know The Answer"
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Standing at the front of the class I heard a loud scream from the back row "OWWW HELP" I looked out to see one of my 10th grade students with his arms up protecting his chest as his classmate punches him repeatedly. It's times like these that made me start wondering, how do my students get so off track that they need to act out? In the end the kid was only playing. The student who asked for help begged me not to take his friend to the principals office, he told me they were only doing it for fun and he was never in any real trouble. So in the end they both had to talk it out with the principal.

As a high school ESL ( English as a second language) teacher living in South America, I find myself in these same situations on a weekly if not daily basis. I teach students from a miriad of backgrounds, situations and education levels.

It's become so very obvious to me that the #1 reason that my "Trouble students" don't participate in class is that they don't know how. They don't understand the class material. I don't blame them for that, many of them come from different schools and were never able to get caught up to this schools agenda. They come to class, get bored, and start causing major problems.

Oftentimes I have found that if I have time in class to sit with these same students and explain things to them in simpler terms, they start to understand and then blend back in with the rest of the class working and participating. That creates another problem, I can't help each individual student and keep control of my 15–25 student classes all at the same time. Those who don't work on their own after a group explanation are bound to fall behind. Oftentimes I can tell that there are students who are lost. I'll walk up to them, lean in a little closer and ask them if they can explain to me the topic they are working on. They usually get an embarrassed smile on their face, slurr a word or two and then wait for me to cut in and give them the answers. Which would be unfair of me to do.

Through these experiences I've realized that the number 1 inhibitor to our learning can easily be the feeling of pure embarassment that many of us feel for admitting that we don't know what we are doing. Looking at it from an outside perspective, there's no embarassment at all. It's easy to say but hard to do when it's our turn. Sometimes we would rather feel bad for ourselves than search for the answer to our problems even if the answer is right in front of us.

Taking a look at the most succesful students in my classes, they're the ones that raise their hand look me in the eye and say "Teacher, explain this to me. I don't understand it" It seems so easy to do writing it on the page. When I was in my first college math class I couldn't admit that I needed help. I struggled to the point of failing the class, but I couldn't ask another person to explain anything to me. The biggest fear I had was that they would explain it to me and I still wouldn't understand it. Then I would have to enter an entirely new level of humility and tell them that I still don't get it. Then my heart would start beating, I would feel hot and my hands would start sweating. What if I never get it? Of course it was all in my head, I hadn't even tried to ask for help.

The point is, learning is a process. Sometimes a long one, that can be complicated and even strenuous. We lessen our own suffering by stepping out of our box of comfort and self assurance and admitting that we don't have the answers. Only then can we become fully susceptive to the skills and knowledge we are developing. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a show of interest and a stepping stone on our way to being better versions of ourselves.

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About the Creator

Conner Skaggs

Raw messages about life. Sharing questions that will make you think. Self-reflection, life hacks, and messages of hope and happiness. 1 year as a teacher.

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (4)

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  • Alex Von Caz5 months ago

    "The main proof of the greatness of man is in his ability to perceive his own smallness" I read in a book. The lines that make up this article are really surprising and profound. Throughout studies as in Life, since we live in constant learning, many times we come across tests. To get ahead we must take as a life motto the teaching that leaves us (paraphrasing the author) "Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of interest and a springboard on our way to a better version of ourselves..." Successes on the path of Literature!!

  • Kendall Defoe5 months ago

    Good work. I taught ESL in Japan and noted that the ones who were most frustrated simply could not make themselves participate without feeling embarrassed. You are a good teacher, and I wish you the best of luck with this. :)

  • Gerald Holmes5 months ago

    Well done. A teacher that understands their students is a blessing to those students.

  • Heather Lunsford5 months ago

    Sounds like you are a great teacher. It's been a bit since I was in a classroom but I remember teachers making me feel less than for asking questions or for a better explanation. But I found in the real world asking questions until I really understood to be a positive thing. Great article thanks for sharing your perspective.

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