Capture the teacher

I lecture and then give my students group work on problems I just lectured on. I go around the class and ask each student if they want help. Most students understand that I can’t spend much time with any individual student. But some students want to capture me. I tell them that I have to move on, and I go around and check if all the other students in the class need help. What I find upsetting is the ones who are just where I left them ten or fifteen minutes ago. They haven’t moved on to another problem and they haven’t asked those around them for help. One of the major reasons to do group work is for students to help each other.

I don’t know what they think they are accomplishing while they are waiting. They don’t appear to be reading the textbook or going over their notes. In fairness, the ones who want to capture me often don’t speak English very well, but fluency in English is a prerequisite for this course. In most cases, I covered the points they asked in the lecture. I could accept it better if they came to me for help during office hours, but they don’t.

Most students only want a little help. They recognize that they will understand things better if they learn them themselves. They also understand the concept of fairness. If I give 30 minutes of group work to a class of 25, it is unfair for one student to take three minutes of my time, at least until everyone has the opportunity to get their first question answered.

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