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#2076426 - 05/03/13 04:34 AM frustration  
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What do you do with frustration?

I find myself getting frustrated in lessons where students haven't practiced, distract me with irrelevant questions or can't or won't sit still or focus on what we're doing. It's not just one, it's a string of them.

I remind myself it's not that easy to sit still when you're young (8) and it's sunny outside for the first time this year.

I'm torn between ignoring, tolerating, changing activities to something that will go down better and just plain shouting. I don't shout but sometimes I'm sure my frustration shows.

Just now I'm printing myself question cards, so they get 5 cards at the start of a lesson, and can spend a card for each question. I have found limiting questions to be helpful in the past.

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#2076467 - 05/03/13 07:59 AM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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If this is just something that started happening because of the weather, I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. Kids sometimes needs to talk and they're not always doing it to get out of playing piano. It's just when do they get an adult's undivided attention?

If it is a trend you are noticing, then you certainly can put the limit on questions. I simply ignore the question and say "OK, back to piano..." and give them something to do.


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#2076529 - 05/03/13 09:37 AM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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If they are sitting on the bench for the entire lesson, that might be part of the problem. They've been sitting a lot in school, too. Get them up off the bench moving, down on the floor playing a game -- something to break up the monotony of sitting.


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#2076562 - 05/03/13 10:35 AM Re: frustration [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
If this is just something that started happening because of the weather, I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. Kids sometimes needs to talk and they're not always doing it to get out of playing piano. It's just when do they get an adult's undivided attention?

If it is a trend you are noticing, then you certainly can put the limit on questions. I simply ignore the question and say "OK, back to piano..." and give them something to do.


I think that's it, it's on me to work out why it's happening, if it's a one-off or a normal thing, and to increase my getting-back-into-it skills,

#2076564 - 05/03/13 10:37 AM Re: frustration [Re: Minniemay]  
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Originally Posted by Minniemay
If they are sitting on the bench for the entire lesson, that might be part of the problem. They've been sitting a lot in school, too. Get them up off the bench moving, down on the floor playing a game -- something to break up the monotony of sitting.


We do a fair bit of that, but this kid won't sit still for a minute. I'd be happy with 10 minutes, which I think is reasonable at 8. She footers with her foot stool constantly.

I think she doesn't like the new books I assigned, but hasn't said.

#2076606 - 05/03/13 11:36 AM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Originally Posted by TLT
I find myself getting frustrated in lessons where students haven't practiced


Me too, I get extremely frustrated when students are obviously not practicing. If they cannot sit still 10 minutes at bench I am not as frustrated as they are not practicing. I am pretty patience when it comes to short attention spam, I can deal with it. However, when it comes to "not practicing" at home, I will make a big deal with it.

I have a big cute green alligator stuff animal under the drawer of my couch in studio, usually no one see that I own a stuff animal. When I am extremely frustrated, I will ask my student to stand up, go to the drawer and take the alligator to me. Then I will hug the alligator and tell the alligator that :"Ahh.....I am so stressful and angry!! My student is not practicing at home! What should I do?"

All the time we end up laughing, but the student do feel very bad about themselves and they change attitude right away.

Hope you like this.
Ha.


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#2076649 - 05/03/13 01:05 PM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Originally Posted by ten left thumbs
We do a fair bit of that, but this kid won't sit still for a minute. I'd be happy with 10 minutes, which I think is reasonable at 8. She footers with her foot stool constantly.

Maybe she's better off with dance lessons than piano lessons! Piano is not for everybody. She might need a different channel to release all that excess energy.


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#2076651 - 05/03/13 01:07 PM Re: frustration [Re: bzpiano]  
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Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
short attention spam

This is conjuring up all sorts of funny pictures in my head...


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#2076679 - 05/03/13 01:57 PM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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ez, that is a lovely image! laugh

I am the other way round. I can deal with it when they don't practice, as long as they focus in a lesson.

AZN, this particular student worked well through MFPA A and B. She seemed keen and happy to learn. The parents are keen for the kids to get used to working for things, and supervise practice. But she has always been fidgety.

#2076690 - 05/03/13 02:25 PM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Originally Posted by TLT
I am the other way round. I can deal with it when they don't practice, as long as they focus in a lesson.


They said no two students are a like, I think this apply to teachers to!! ha


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#2076770 - 05/03/13 05:14 PM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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I get frustrated, as well, when students don't practice. I have sticker charts where they add a sticker for each day they practiced during the week. Once they fill up the chart, they get to pick a treat from a basket I keep full of different (dollar store) items. Of course, even with this some students still won't practice.
I try not to get frustrated, but do constantly encourage them to practice (encourage them in front of their parents).

As for the talking and moving...I have a chart hanging on the wall near the piano that lists everything that needs to be done during the lesson. I used index cards and connected them by a string. As each thing is accomplished, the student can move a clothespin down to the next card. The last card says "Game"...they can't get to the game until they reach it! (My cards read: "Scales, Warm-ups, Lesson, Theory, Game") You can change out your cards depending on the student and what you want to do during the lesson.
This seems to work for a few of my younger students who like to talk about things other than the piano. I can remind them of where we are in the lesson and they can clearly see how much they need to do before they hit "Game". And they like moving the clothespin each time they accomplish something.

#2076815 - 05/03/13 07:21 PM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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After reading that smaller, more immediate rewards often inspire harder work than infrequent, larger rewards, I started keeping a treat basket of mini candies near my piano. Kids know they get one for every week they do 100% of their practicing. Some kids get one every week. Some almost never do. One practices 85% of her assignment every week but can't seem to get that last 15%. At least she practices.

I don't like handing out sugar on a regular basis, but probably a miniature candy bar (.5 ounce or something) once a week isn't going to hurt those of my students who practice well, and I couldn't think of anything else small and cheap that they'd actually like getting.


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#2076830 - 05/03/13 08:03 PM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Quote
After reading that smaller, more immediate rewards often inspire harder work than infrequent, larger rewards


Very true, but also very sad fact.


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#2076976 - 05/04/13 02:46 AM Re: frustration [Re: Brinestone]  
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Originally Posted by Brinestone

I don't like handing out sugar on a regular basis, but probably a miniature candy bar (.5 ounce or something) once a week isn't going to hurt those of my students who practice well, and I couldn't think of anything else small and cheap that they'd actually like getting.


Sorry, but it is bad for them and I couldn't do it (just been reading Pure White and Deadly). They probably get plenty sweets anyway, I just wouldn't want to add to it.

#2076977 - 05/04/13 02:48 AM Re: frustration [Re: Patience2010]  
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Originally Posted by Patience2010


As for the talking and moving...I have a chart hanging on the wall near the piano that lists everything that needs to be done during the lesson. I used index cards and connected them by a string....


Interesting. How do you adjust the cards for different students?

#2077156 - 05/04/13 01:18 PM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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When they don't practice, MAKE THEM practice hard during the lesson. Play the "10 times game" , or "5 times game" - ie making them do a passage or line a certain number of times until it is absolutely perfect, and if they mess up once, return to 0. Once they get that passage, on to the next. It's likely that kids who don't practice at home anyway are not used to the results this kind of intense focus can reap, and will be actually pleasantly surprised (and even more motivated to practice), when they witness it happening during a lesson. And tell this to the parents.

Doing this sort of thing, for me at least, is a much better and more focused use of time than just going through all the motions of a regular lesson - going thru all pieces slowly and poorly..asking "What note is that" every five seconds".., sight-reading, etc..), which will leave both of you frustrated and feeling as if nothing has really been accomplished.

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 05/04/13 01:19 PM.
#2077163 - 05/04/13 01:24 PM Re: frustration [Re: Opus_Maximus]  
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
When they don't practice, MAKE THEM practice hard during the lesson. Play the "10 times game" , or "5 times game" - ie making them do a passage or line a certain number of times until it is absolutely perfect, and if they mess up once, return to 0. Once they get that passage, on to the next. It's likely that kids who don't practice at home anyway are not used to the results this kind of intense focus can reap, and will be actually pleasantly surprised (and even more motivated to practice), when they witness it happening during a lesson. And tell this to the parents.

Doing this sort of thing, for me at least, is a much better and more focused use of time than just going through all the motions of a regular lesson - going thru all pieces slowly and poorly..asking "What note is that every five seconds".., sight-reading, etc..), which will leave both of you frustrated and feeling as if nothing has really been accomplished.


I agree with practicing during the lesson, in fact that is most of what I do is show them what they should be doing during the week. I even write it down for them so they can remember and I say "This is what you do to practice during the week."

However, I disagree with the simple "play the passage X times in a row without making a mistake" game. That is quite possibly the most boring and uncreative way to practice next to playing straight through the entire piece without stopping. I'm all about asking these questions:

1) What was that mistake you just made?
2) Why did you make that mistake/what did you want to play instead of what's written and why?
3) What are some ways we can play this differently to help solve that problem? (I assist them with ideas like blocked chords, practicing in rhythms, playing staccato/legato, accents, etc., but I do like them to think of their own ideas that help address the problem)

The reason they're not practicing is because it's boring the way they practice. I don't like practicing this way either and would rather not even practice than to do it in a way that doesn't engage my mind creatively.

Last edited by Morodiene; 05/04/13 01:24 PM. Reason: typo

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#2077168 - 05/04/13 01:49 PM Re: frustration [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
When they don't practice, MAKE THEM practice hard during the lesson. Play the "10 times game" , or "5 times game" - ie making them do a passage or line a certain number of times until it is absolutely perfect, and if they mess up once, return to 0. Once they get that passage, on to the next. It's likely that kids who don't practice at home anyway are not used to the results this kind of intense focus can reap, and will be actually pleasantly surprised (and even more motivated to practice), when they witness it happening during a lesson. And tell this to the parents.

Doing this sort of thing, for me at least, is a much better and more focused use of time than just going through all the motions of a regular lesson - going thru all pieces slowly and poorly..asking "What note is that every five seconds".., sight-reading, etc..), which will leave both of you frustrated and feeling as if nothing has really been accomplished.


I agree with practicing during the lesson, in fact that is most of what I do is show them what they should be doing during the week. I even write it down for them so they can remember and I say "This is what you do to practice during the week."

However, I disagree with the simple "play the passage X times in a row without making a mistake" game. That is quite possibly the most boring and uncreative way to practice next to playing straight through the entire piece without stopping. I'm all about asking these questions:

1) What was that mistake you just made?
2) Why did you make that mistake/what did you want to play instead of what's written and why?
3) What are some ways we can play this differently to help solve that problem? (I assist them with ideas like blocked chords, practicing in rhythms, playing staccato/legato, accents, etc., but I do like them to think of their own ideas that help address the problem)

The reason they're not practicing is because it's boring the way they practice. I don't like practicing this way either and would rather not even practice than to do it in a way that doesn't engage my mind creatively.


I agree those are all good questions, though I find that "the X number of times", provides a goal; a structure within their practicing while they are of course thinking about those other things that you mentioned. After all, you are going to need to repeat something 5 or 10 times correctly ANYWAY for it to stick and for you to be able to really play it - just getting it right once or twice will not be enough to wash away a week of not practicing or sloppy practicing.

Sometimes kids are just lazy and unfocused, then need a bit of incentive to keep their mind on the task. In my experience with this game, kids actually increase their focus more than I see them do any other time, precisely because it is fun and engaging for them, like getting a high score on a game or whatnot.

#2077177 - 05/04/13 02:12 PM Re: frustration [Re: Opus_Maximus]  
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
When they don't practice, MAKE THEM practice hard during the lesson. Play the "10 times game" , or "5 times game" - ie making them do a passage or line a certain number of times until it is absolutely perfect, and if they mess up once, return to 0. Once they get that passage, on to the next. It's likely that kids who don't practice at home anyway are not used to the results this kind of intense focus can reap, and will be actually pleasantly surprised (and even more motivated to practice), when they witness it happening during a lesson. And tell this to the parents.



I do this, it's not the only way of making them practice, but I do it. Still, it's a poor use of lesson time. It's what they should have done at home.

#2077178 - 05/04/13 02:15 PM Re: frustration [Re: Opus_Maximus]  
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
When they don't practice, MAKE THEM practice hard during the lesson. Play the "10 times game" , or "5 times game" - ie making them do a passage or line a certain number of times until it is absolutely perfect, and if they mess up once, return to 0. Once they get that passage, on to the next. It's likely that kids who don't practice at home anyway are not used to the results this kind of intense focus can reap, and will be actually pleasantly surprised (and even more motivated to practice), when they witness it happening during a lesson. And tell this to the parents.

Doing this sort of thing, for me at least, is a much better and more focused use of time than just going through all the motions of a regular lesson - going thru all pieces slowly and poorly..asking "What note is that every five seconds".., sight-reading, etc..), which will leave both of you frustrated and feeling as if nothing has really been accomplished.


I agree with practicing during the lesson, in fact that is most of what I do is show them what they should be doing during the week. I even write it down for them so they can remember and I say "This is what you do to practice during the week."

However, I disagree with the simple "play the passage X times in a row without making a mistake" game. That is quite possibly the most boring and uncreative way to practice next to playing straight through the entire piece without stopping. I'm all about asking these questions:

1) What was that mistake you just made?
2) Why did you make that mistake/what did you want to play instead of what's written and why?
3) What are some ways we can play this differently to help solve that problem? (I assist them with ideas like blocked chords, practicing in rhythms, playing staccato/legato, accents, etc., but I do like them to think of their own ideas that help address the problem)

The reason they're not practicing is because it's boring the way they practice. I don't like practicing this way either and would rather not even practice than to do it in a way that doesn't engage my mind creatively.


I agree those are all good questions, though I find that "the X number of times", provides a goal; a structure within their practicing while they are of course thinking about those other things that you mentioned. After all, you are going to need to repeat something 5 or 10 times correctly ANYWAY for it to stick and for you to be able to really play it - just getting it right once or twice will not be enough to wash away a week of not practicing or sloppy practicing.

Sometimes kids are just lazy and unfocused, then need a bit of incentive to keep their mind on the task. In my experience with this game, kids actually increase their focus more than I see them do any other time, precisely because it is fun and engaging for them, like getting a high score on a game or whatnot.


Repeating a measure over and over again is boring, but if you are doing blocked chords, alternating hands, swinging rhythms, or something like that, your attention is on getting that to be easier to play, and so the repetition is not boring. Also, just repeating I think is not as effective even if done correctly 10 times in a row as doing these other methods. It's like trying to analyze a sculpture by seeing on a photograph. You have no way of looking at from different angles with different lighting and therefore will have a one-dimensional view of the work. Same in music, I think.


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#2077748 - 05/05/13 03:58 PM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Luckily for me, the students who need this chart are all on the same level. If I have a student who doesn't yet do something (such as the "warm-ups"), we just skip that card.
You could always have more than one list...or write it out on a marker board and use a magnet to move to each item. It really helps my talkers and my one student with ADD.

#2077751 - 05/05/13 04:13 PM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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I love how the user Patience's first two posts are on a thread called "Frustration". ha

...and welcome to PianoWorld! thumb


Regards,

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#2078083 - 05/06/13 02:42 AM Re: frustration [Re: Patience2010]  
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Originally Posted by Patience2010
Luckily for me, the students who need this chart are all on the same level. If I have a student who doesn't yet do something (such as the "warm-ups"), we just skip that card.
You could always have more than one list...or write it out on a marker board and use a magnet to move to each item. It really helps my talkers and my one student with ADD.


Yes, good idea. The kids I have most trouble with are in their own homes (maybe a pattern there...) so I like the index cards idea because it's quite portable. Most lessons would be covered if I said: scales/warm up; tunes from last week; new tunes; theory; game. All that matters to them is the game at the end.

Edit: I just want to bring this back to my original question. Of course there may be things I can do to reduce frustration, especially when I know to expect trouble and I can pre-empt it.

But, given I will sometimes get frustrated, is it OK to show it? What can I do with the frustration?

Last edited by ten left thumbs; 05/06/13 04:53 AM.
#2078154 - 05/06/13 07:33 AM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Originally Posted by ten left thumbs


Edit: I just want to bring this back to my original question. Of course there may be things I can do to reduce frustration, especially when I know to expect trouble and I can pre-empt it.

But, given I will sometimes get frustrated, is it OK to show it? What can I do with the frustration?


There have been times when I'm frustrated, and I don't often try to hide it. Sometimes a student is being particularly daft or not focusing, and me not telling them doesn't help anything. However, I do believe there are times when I know I'm just having a bad day, I'm short-tempered, and so I keep it to myself. I guess you just have to know yourself enough to be able to realize if your frustration is because the student is acting a certain way which is disrespectful/distracting to the lesson or if it's due to your own personal feelings that day. Sometimes when I'm frustrated with a student I will just switch gears and do something completely different that day than I had planned for them - this often will have good results and help us both from getting frustrated.


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#2078162 - 05/06/13 07:58 AM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Originally Posted by ten left thumbs
But, given I will sometimes get frustrated, is it OK to show it? What can I do with the frustration?


If it will benefit the student, by all means show it.

If it's just to make you feel better, no.

I'm of the opinion that case 1 is relatively rare, but YMMV.


gotta go practice
#2078202 - 05/06/13 09:25 AM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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OK, got it. If a student is being daft and a hint of my frustration is going to help get them on track, I show it.

If it's not going to help, or if it's a combination of a string a students being just a shade off, then I hide it and shout at my husband at the end of the day? wink

Actually this reminds me an old brass teacher from aeons ago who was chilled as anything, but just occasionally there was an edge in his voice as he counted me in that told me I'd better concentrate.

#2078217 - 05/06/13 09:43 AM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Morodiene  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 15,698
Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted by ten left thumbs
OK, got it. If a student is being daft and a hint of my frustration is going to help get them on track, I show it.

If it's not going to help, or if it's a combination of a string a students being just a shade off, then I hide it and shout at my husband at the end of the day? wink

Actually this reminds me an old brass teacher from aeons ago who was chilled as anything, but just occasionally there was an edge in his voice as he counted me in that told me I'd better concentrate.


I don't take it out on my husband, but I do vent to him and my fellow voice teacher. I also do a lot of playing of loud, angry music that helps. laugh


private piano/voice teacher FT

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#2078235 - 05/06/13 10:32 AM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 2,651
Overexposed Offline
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Overexposed  Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 2,651
ten left thumbs,

I tend to channel frustration into housework. Makes for very clean bathrooms. laugh

It doesn't help say during a lesson. But with frustration that has stayed with you, it's great. Frustration is energy that can be put to better use.


#2078249 - 05/06/13 10:59 AM Re: frustration [Re: Overexposed]  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 3,893
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member
TimR  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 3,893
Virginia, USA
Frustration is weakness leaving the body.

No, wait. I think that's pain. Never mind. smile

Long term, frustration is a message you need to fix something, either with the external factor (student behavior) or the internal (your attitude toward it). Your control is usually greater over internal, if you choose.

Short term, we all get frustrated at times. Being aware of it allows you to avoid overreacting.


gotta go practice
#2078319 - 05/06/13 01:22 PM Re: frustration [Re: ten left thumbs]  
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 3,336
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member
ten left thumbs  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2009
Posts: 3,336
Scotland
Deep.

I care about students achieving something. When they don't get something they should get (they got it last week, they can't stop talking about cars....) I get frustrated. I haven't found a way beyond that yet, apart from not caring. And my plan is to keep caring.

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