As with many schools, the heat and air is not controlled in each individual classroom. Either the heat is on or the air is on. You can’t control it depending on what Mother Nature throws at you during the day. In the spring it becomes particularly tricky because as students prepare for school, it is quite cold; however, as the afternoon rolls around, the mercury has soared to summer-like temperatures. As I’ve heard many times, “welcome to springtime in Kentucky!” Having grown up in the state I am very familiar with Kentucky’s spring but it has never been more obvious and clear to me than this week.
The beginning of the week posed a dilemma for me as a young teacher; more specifically in dealing with my last class of the day. By the time they enter the class, on any given day, they have each individually encountered a range of emotions that have a great impact on how the class is going to go. When we add in the exhausting heat from earlier this week, it almost became a disaster. I was trying to introduce new content to the students and I could tell I was in for a struggle. They did give an effort to pay attention but the heat was too much for them. The one small window in the corner of the room did little to circulate any air. Everyone was sweating and their faces were red.
As I’ve stated before my goal is to prepare students for life after high school. As much as I wanted to say, “Do you think your college professor will let you slack off because you’re sweating?” or “Do you think your boss will let you miss a deadline because the air conditioning wasn’t on in the office?” I had to remember, as much as I want them to learn, they are kids. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? I was in for a battle if we couldn’t get passed satisfying their physiological needs.
Instead of trying to force the new content on them, I let them know we would cover just one more point and then we would stop for a water break. After that they had to come back and begin any makeup work they had or they could review skills with the Excel Jeopardy. The next day we revisited the new content and continued where we left off. I wonder how other teachers handle similar situations. The teacher can never just stop the class, some form of relevant learning needs to take place. Yet, if the entire class is struggling, at what point is it appropriate to say let’s revisit this at another time?