The importance of patience

Pressure.   Students feel it, and so do teachers.   And when the pressure is on to speed things up, take the time to slow down.   No one benefits from rushed work.

Patience isn’t just a virtue, it is an utter necessity.

Undue pressure on students creates an atmosphere that is hostile to learning.   If a student feels like they can’t make mistakes, or feels like they can’t ask questions something terrible will happen:  they won’t.   They won’t volunteer information, they won’t ask questions, and they won’t take any risks.  Rushing students will give you bad results quickly.   What is even worse is that they will blame themselves for not being capable of performing under pressure.   And guilt is not a condition that leads to thoughtful study… or class attendance for that matter.

Remember that asking questions is often seen as a high-risk behavior by the students.   It can take days to foster an atmosphere where students feel they can ask questions, and a few curt comments will undo all of your hard work!     It may sound strange, but students need to have an atmosphere where they free to fail.   Because failure can be rocket fuel to success.   And if they have a chance to fail and an environment that is encouraging and helpful, they will also have the opportunities they need to succeed.

There is a lot of balancing that needs to take place in a classroom:  between being patient and still asking for excellence.   And between giving your students enough to do versus giving them too much.   I structure my class with work time that has some easy and some tricky questions.   I tell my students that speed only comes with a lot of practice.

“The only bad mistake you can make is one that you’ve made before.”

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