“Ms. Stewart! Help! I can’t do it!”
This plea came not in the middle of a challenging research project or a difficult piece of writing. Instead, rapidly solidifying eggs sparked the sense of desperation in students’ voices this afternoon. These were confident, competent students, but something about making omelets was causing them to freak out. To be fair, I’d given no real instructions other than a quick demonstration. Making omelets is messy business, and my first instinct was to the grab the offered spatula.
But I recognized the students’ panic and my need to make things better, both of which are ultimately unhelpful in the long run. I lowered the heat a bit and turned the spatula handle around. I heard myself saying things like. “You can do this. It doesn’t have to be perfect. What’s the worst that can happen? We can always make another one. ”
After one exchange, a student said, “That is such a teacher thing to say.” 🙂
They were teacher sorts of things to say, but I only knew to say them only because my teachers and mentors have said them to me. The struggle my students have with the perfect demon is one that is all too familiar. I’m grateful for the people (like Sam, Bud, Jim, and Jason among many others) who have helped me push through the panic and for the opportunity to help students do the same.