Finishing up, I asked Francesca, “Any questions?” Her glazed eyes were a clear indication of my inability to reach over and around to her side of the bell curve. I knew what I was doing, that’s for sure. “So, what am I supposed to do?” she asked with a deep-seated bleariness. “Here,” I said, “start by building a square with these pegs…” and I went back to the beginning of the lesson, and eventually, step by step, we began to rebuild the lesson I’d just presented.
This was my pattern during those first months as a first-year teacher. I’d determine a lesson needed to be given. I’d make the presentation. The kids would look at me, “What are we supposed to do?” “I just showed you…” Eventually I realized there was something missing. It was Mrs. Honneger who had said to me, “If the children aren’t doing the work it means you made a mistake.” “Me?” “Yes, you! Not them, not the material, you are the mistake!” Well, I never.