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Last week, for the first time that I can remember in my career as a teacher, I hit the wall.  It was epic.  One minute I’m saving my students from illiteracy and then WHAM – I hit the wall like Wile E Coyote.  In reality, I was teaching an English 12 student how to write an academic essay and she got stuck and couldn’t seem to get unstuck.  And then I got stuck.  I tried pretty much everything I knew how to do to help her understand and nothing seemed to help.  I felt like a vehicle stuck in deep mud or snow and no matter how much you push down on the gas, the tires just keep spinning – going nowhere.  And it wasn’t like I was dealing with a disengaged, couldn’t-care-less-about-school student.  She’s bright and highly motivated.  What kind of teacher can’t teach an engaged, smart, highly motivated student?  Hi.  My name is Jonathan, and I have a problem teaching students who want to learn.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t THAT bad, but there were a number of extended moments during which I began to question my ability to teach.

So I swallowed my professional pride and I did something that isn’t normally in my top list of strategies to use when a student is having difficulty with something in my class – I sent her to another teacher to get some help.  I asked for help.  It was liberating for both me and my student.  When she came back into my class, she had a much better understanding about how to approach her essay and felt encouraged as well.  In talking with the teacher who helped her afterwards, I learned about a number of different approaches that I hadn’t previously considered.  At the end of the day, it was a win-win situation for everyone!

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