The Ah Hah Moment: A Blessing and A Curse

Patience at the River

If students don’t get it immediately, they struggle.

And it’s exactly the same for me too. How about you?

I hate feeling inadequate. I dread not understanding the point when others around me nod in agreement to the person presenting.

A couple of years ago I sat in a math seminar next to my colleague who was responsible for teaching the advanced math students. I sat there dumfounded trying to complete the problem given to us. She sat back having already accomplished the task while I sat forward trying to just understand what was being asked of me.

That was not a good feeling.

As teachers we value the process of imparting knowledge.

We love posing a question, getting the class enthralled, seeing them engaged, and observing them overcome whatever challenges we’ve placed before them. Mission accomplished. Objective realized. Time to move to the next lesson or revel in the fact that we’ve earned today’s paycheck.

As students they just want it to be over.

They heard the lesson being introduced, perhaps vaguely, and they heard when the lesson was over. They either got it or didn’t. This either worried them or it didn’t.

Next up? They just want that quiz, a test and move on to the next thing. Or perhaps instead escape the classroom and wish it all away.

Sometimes they worry if they did ok. Sometimes not. And sometimes they will stare at the clock wondering when all of it will be over with.

This is of course difficult for us teachers to accept.

It is that time of year in which students dreaming the day away has become unnerving. Time is running out and the state assessments are coming.

Principals are stressed. County specialists are adamant that we review everything we have taught since the first day of school. Both are not helpful to my health nor to that of my students. We know those tests are coming. And if you’ve been doing this a while, we know what we have to do.

Today I gave yet another online assessment in hopes of preparing my students to take their online state assessment. They didn’t do well.

I didn’t take it well.

So I remembered the Ah Hah Moment Lesson I shared earlier in the year.

The Ah Hah Moment comes to each of us differently – yet it will come and we just need to be patient with ourselves.

Some students, just like us adults, will understand the lesson taught us the first time. This is of course unlikely for us as much as it is for our students.

That’s why I reiterate to them again that all of them have the Ah Hah Moment of Learning. Sometimes I ask them to share with us when the lightbulb has lit inside their skull. That’s when I proclaim the amount of time that has passed since the lesson began and I reiterate… the Ah Hah did indeed come.

Perhaps it will take another ten minutes or an hour. Perhaps it will take another day.

Or perhaps, and this does not gel well with instruction specialists, the Ah Hah Moment will occur next year – well past the assessment that they’ll take in a just a couple of months.

This doesn’t reassure me or my administrators, but it’s just how humans are made.

We are different after all.

And our Ah Hah Moment just isn’t going to be dictated by a clock or calendar.

We just need to be patient and believe that it will happen.

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