So often I’m taught by my students. Important life lessons come from interactions with children. But sometimes my students help with very basic tasks too. Like when I couldn’t figure out how to enter a password into a computer.

It was chaos from the start. My schedule had changed. Two fourth grade classes swapped time slots. I went to where I was supposed to meet my first class. But the room was dark, empty. Where were the students?

I eventually found all 30+ of them standing in the hallway, on a different floor waiting for me. Oh, the joys of miscommunication. Quickly and quietly they followed me back to their classroom. Actually, they didn’t follow. They led from behind. If they had followed, I would've taken them to the wrong floor.

Once in the classroom, everyone sat quietly and waited patiently for me to set up. It was an unfamiliar room, so I felt a bit out of place. The computer demanded a password to continue booting. I didn’t know a password. Now what? I just looked and smiled at my unbelievably quiet students. They smiled back and knew something was wrong.

These are the moments that make teaching so great; when something doesn’t go according to plan. I could've chosen to panic. I could've left the room to find my co-teacher for help. Or, I could've done what I did. I asked my students to assist, to teach me.

Of course they knew the password. I typed it in, but nothing happened. An error occurred. I tried again. The computer beeped another error message at me in Korean. What was I doing wrong? “Slow teacher,” they said, “Slow!”

We laughed together as I restarted the system, and tried once more. This time I switched the keyboard from English to Hangul (Korean alphabet). Unsuccessful in my slower attempt, I had to resort to Plan B: Make something up on the spot.

We practiced past tense in preparation for our next lesson. The students cooperated and behaved so well. I couldn’t believe it! They were actually more engaged with my “on the spot” lesson than they usually are with my planned materials. Go figure!

What could've been a big mess turned out to be a wonderful teaching and learning experience for all involved, especially for me. I’m so thankful for the many lessons I’ve learned from my students. And I’m looking forward to many more teaching moments like the one that happened today.


  1. You are a quick learner for a "slow teacher." ;-)

  2. I always "play dumb" with my kids...that way when I really do make a mistake, I can play it off as purposeful.