Week 6: Frustration

I think it’s safe to say we have all had those moments of frustration with school that make us want to drop everything. This moments have left me at times second-guessing why I am even at college. I can also make the point that this isn’t a new phenomenon that only occurs with college students. Throughout this week at Banaadir Academy I began to see the common theme of frustration or lack of motivation in the students. Some students seemed overwhelmed or confused with the task at hand while others were more interested in engaging with their peers. These moments that cause one to want to give up are both necessary and helpful.

On Tuesday, two students and I worked on rounding numbers. The students needed to become better with the skill in order to move forward in math with the class that day. The teacher had a saying to help the children know whether to round up or down, but it came to my attention that they didn’t quite understand it. The more I worked with them I realized that they were just guessing on answers and weren’t able to picture a number line in their head. The teacher then printed me off a sheet for each student with a 100s chart on it so that could have a visual aide. One of the students I was working with is always willing to try the activities with me, but the other student was lacking motivation. She began to become frustrated with it since she wasn’t getting the answers right. I could see her beginning to shut down and I knew at the moment she needed a break. I shifted her attention away from math and asked about her weekend and what she did. She began to regain focus and finally she realized how to use the chart in order to complete her worksheet. Throughout the rest of the time I spent there on Tuesday if she would lose motivation I would ask her to stand up and do 3 spins. She not only found this funny, but also was able to get a burst of energy to power through her assignment.

This moment was rewarding for me in different ways. I got to see her overcome her frustration, succeed with the assignment, and finish the activity proud. Also it showed me that frustration is not always a bad thing, but a learning experience. It’s important to turn frustration into a positive thing and not let it overcome oneself. Sometimes I need a break from school and just want to watch Netflix or take a nap. I usually end up feeling guilty for wasting time and not being productive, but now I know that it’s necessary. The important thing I need to remember is how I redirect that frustration or lack of motivation into productivity. There is one phrase from a video that was shown in CLA’s first year experience class lecture earlier this semester that really stuck with me and it is that we cannot overstimulate or under stimulate our minds.

I would like to add a side note of another experience I had this week that did not directly correlate with my medium post, but I thought was important to share. During my time spent at Banaadir on Thursday I worked on spelling practice with several kids. One of the little boys I was working with commented on my skin color. Basically all he said was, “Your lighter?” and “Is your mom lighter?” I thought that this was an interesting moment because we were recently talking about race in lecture and discussion. To me his question were no more different than if he had commented on the color of my shirt. He simply asked me about my skin color and then basically said okay and continued spelling. This was the first time in my life that I’ve actually experienced somebody verbally commentating on my skin color that I can recall. I am grateful for this experience as well as the many others I have had with the students at Banaadir.

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