One of the best things about working with teenagers is that they help you keep perspective.
One of my students came into class the other day completely distracted and completely disengaged from her work. The reason: she had a small pimple on her face. It seemed to frustrate her even more when people would tell her that they didn’t notice it….because she noticed it…a lot. This is a student with whom I have a good relationship, so I felt comfortable giving her a pep talk. “I know you’re having a difficult day, but let’s try to do the best we can focusing on what’s right in front of us. You will make it through the day.”
My own pep talk gave me some perspective about my own life and teaching. How many times do I make “mountains out of zits”? Does it prevent me at times from doing the most important work that’s right in front of me? Sometimes the advice that we give to our students (even if it seems to border on absurdity) is the best advice we can give ourselves.
I do want to apply this to the #anyqs challenge posed by Dan Meyer. I completely agree with the spirit of the challenge–using an image or video that naturally leads a majority of students to ask a question that they want to answer. However, on many days, a single zit (or any other problem that a student might become focused on) might make all the work in coming up with the perfect image all for naught.