Teaching Fresmen is like Potty Training

I’ve found a metaphor that has helped me relate to my freshman. It has also helped me understand why I feel like I am good at teaching fresmen. So without further ado..

Teaching freshmen is like potty-training because they really are big enough to know how to do some things. But no one has taught them. So there they are, in your class with their training pants on, making a mess of themselves. You think they should know better, but they don’t.

Teaching freshmen is like potty training because they need to be reminded to do things that older students do automatically. “Josy, remember to bring your book to class.” “Carlos, we need something to write with every single day. Bring a pencil to class.” “Do you need to do homework? Are you sure? How about now? Don’t you just wan’t to try.”

Teaching fresmen is like potty training because they need to be praised for things that they are supposed to be doing. “Hey! You remembered all your supplies!” “Wow! We got through a whole discussion without anyone saying anything grossly off task.” “You guys are awesome! Every single person turned in a project. Go you!” M&M’s and stickers go a long way in the motivation department

Teaching freshmen is like potty training because they really thrive on that praise. They try hard to please you and value the praise you recieve. They want you to be proud of them again. They care about stuff like that.

Teaching freshmen is like potty training because at some point you have to take the training pants off, and you know that there will be some accidents. So you have to be prepared to clean the mess up and keep it moving. Even though there are moments when you just want to scream “Seriously! Right now! We do not have time for this right now!” The yelling probably won’t help, the experts say to avoid it. But it can be very frustrating those messes when you thought they knew better.

Teaching freshmen is like potty training because there are a million small victories followed by some set backs and it is really important to celebrate every single victory or the set backs will seem overwhelming.

Teaching freshmen is like potty training because when the students get just a little bit older they look back at the freshmen, and they insist that they would never do that ewwww.

Teaching freshman is like potty training because sometimes you think that you are in the clear, and then you have a bad day and have to start all over again.

But mostly teaching freshman is like potty training because it feels like this big thing, and perhaps it isn’t even worth it. But you do it, and it is, and by the time the whole thing is over you can’t even believe how big the kids got. And you are very proud of them.

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