Friday, February 23, 2018

Dealing with the Dip

submitted by Elisabeth Fredrickson, Associate Dean for Instruction at Edmonds Community College

When I was teaching, a colleague and I had a longstanding tradition of checking in with each other during the seventh week. This was our time to commiserate over what we called The Seventh Week Blues--that feeling of frustration that students just weren't getting it, coupled with the sudden impulse to redo everything for next quarter.

It helped to talk about it. The feeling would pass, and reason would prevail. I learned to make small adjustments quarter to quarter and save the major overhauls for summer.

I didn't realize what a common feeling this was among teachers until I read Bonni Stachowiak's blog post, The Dip. She compares the rhythm of the school term to Tuckman and Jensen's stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

Then, she notes that teaching seems to involve a little extra storming (stress and frustration) just before the adjournment phase--both for students and for teachers. For some students, this is the point where the choices they have made throughout the quarter, or the setbacks they have experienced, have finally caught up with them, leaving them (and perhaps you) feeling discouraged.

If you don't experience The Dip (aka, The Seventh Week Blues) then lucky you! But if you do, it may help to know that it's normal.

If you want more than just reassurance, Stachowiak offers some concrete strategies for keeping your spirits up during The Dip. She provides tips on keeping an "encouragement folder," communicating proactively with students who are trying to renegotiate their grades, and injecting a little humor (used appropriately) to lighten the mood.

3 comments:

  1. Here is the link to Bonni Stachowiak's post on The Dip: http://teachinginhighered.com/2013/04/01/the-dip/

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  2. A colleague teaches pre-college math, and he offers a "lucky week seven" surprise for students; double points for all week 7 assignments turned in. They are re-energized! This helps pull their grades up, and gives them hope.

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    1. I love that idea! What a great way to boost morale and help students finish strong : )

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