Three or four times this year, students have told me they are frustrated by others making comments or asking questions. I’m not sure what to make of this. I run a pretty rowdy classroom, with lots of big-group discussion as well as small-group discussion, but I don’t chase tangents unless they connect directly to the point. I encourage students to share what they know about the subject. Most of them do, at one point or another, and seem to really benefit from getting feedback from me and other students about the topic’s connection to their experience.
Today, someone commented in class that
“the class goes too much at the pace of the group, and not enough at the pace of the material.”
When I ask the frustrated students what they would prefer, they suggest that I should shut down questions and be more authoritarian. Are they simply grieving for a more familiar classroom style? Are they having trouble finding the links between the topics? Are they anxious about something else, but can’t find a way to tell me? They are annoyed and feel they are wasting their time.
It seems to help if I open the floor to the room, so they can respond to each other. But some students are starting to use this as an excuse, saying that they’re so irritated that they have to take a walk or put their headphones in. I find this perplexing. So far my response to them has been to remind them of times when they appreciated having their experience validated. I also remind them that everyone’s learning needs are different. I wonder if I should coach them more explicitly on dealing with frustration.