The #1 Most Challenging Teaching Skill with ELLs

When Billy gets the same thing wrong again and again…

When Johnny decides to walk as slow as humanly possible over to sharpen his pencil…

When Sally keeps spacing out…

…I have the opportunity to practice something most of us wish we didn’t have to practice quite so often: patience.

Patience doesn’t mean ignoring problems or letting them go. If there are problems, I definitely need solutions, and I should take time to consider what those might be.

Instead, patience is dealing with the emotional reaction I have when things don’t go as planned or Irene wipes another booger on the underside of her desk. 

Patience is taking a moment to review how I feel in a given situation in order to choose a response, rather than just react.

There is nothing wrong with feeling angry, sad, frustrated, disappointed, or annoyed, as long as I don’t try to ignore it or push it down. 

Those feelings are simply clues to what I need to fix either in the classroom or in myself.

Patience is also taking a moment from the rush, from the need to get a little more done, from the desire to prove to everyone how good a teacher I am.

Patience is taking a little time to enjoy my students and let them be kids, to laugh at a silly joke, to get them out of their seats for a quick game, to help a student one more time who still doesn’t get it.

And patience is letting myself be where I am in my journey.

I am not perfect and never will be, but I will get better with time, whether I have been teaching for 2 months or 20 years, whether I need to learn some important things, or just be reminded of them.

It just takes time.

I’d love to hear from you. When was the last time your patience was tested? Everyone benefits when you share your stories!

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