I’ve been thinking about it because I’m a teacher, and I encourage my students to think about what gets in their way when:
- They get distracted
- Get a “giving up” mindset
- Don’t use grit
- Don’t want to grapple
- Are having a rough time with friends/family
- Are confused by who they are
- Avoid work/thinking/tasks
- Don’t know what they want or need
- Any other thing that might get in their way with moving forward with their work
So, what’s been getting in my way? One thing I know is that my teaching partner Emily has been out on maternity leave, and I bounce so many ideas off of her and have her do the final proofread on it. Given our goals and pedagogy are the same, I rely on her. So, perhaps I need to work on being too reliant. If only so that I trust my voice, on my own. Flying without a net, so to speak.
I reflect on my own learning with as much transparency as possible. This blog is about that.
When Emily was out on maternity leave, another former student of mine, Heather, filled in for her. It was seamless in so many ways. Heather is not just a former student, her son is also a former student. So, she knew what we do from a few perspectives, and she loves it. She came in fully understanding the personalization of learning, of the focus on learning, not grades or coercion. Heather was an asset, and I could not believe my luck.
And, I did have to learn a few more tricks. I was, for the first time, the “tech guru” in this relationship. So, I was pushed. That’s a good thing. A very good thing.
I will say, I was pushed just enough. I’m so glad Emily is back. Of course. I enjoyed another person’s perspective and learned a lot. With Emily back, I’m cognizant of how our strenghts build each other up. I’m also cognizant of when I can and should let Emily take care of something I could do. We have the most amazing cohort relationship. We are sympatico.
I’m thinking my lack of published blogging was because I was thinking but working in a different way. I wasn’t freed-up to have the luxury of processing. That’s a hyperbole for sure, but I was in a different space.
So, back to who matters: my students. If I have a mindset that makes it hard to do more when I’m busy, what about our students? They don’t have the luxury, overall, of being in complete control of their work flow. As an adult, I do. And I have so much that gets in the way of moving forward, and I have complete choice about how I see and evaluate things.
Students are not in control of their daily schedule, expectations of their work, the timeline of their work, working when they have the right energy, in the right circumstances. I could go on.
The vision Emily and I have for our classes gives students as much choice and voice as possible. We have a daily inquiry question, but then, students are on thier own with their learning. Our guidance comes in many forms, with the big picture ideal that we are all in agreement that we are all seeking to become better readers, writers, and thinkers. When students make choices about their work, we ask them, “is this the right choice for what you need?”
It’s a question they answer for themselves. We don’t need to know. They do. The answer is always yes. Sometimes, it’s a compicated flowchart of yes. But it’s always yes. I have a student who is identified as g/t in math and reading. The other day, he was sitting at is desk drawing on his iPad. I asked him if he needed to do that right now. He shook his head. I thought about it. Thought about him. Then called him over. He does that a lot. Gets off-track with drawing, seemingly off-topic research. I asked him about his thinking process. Long story short, that meandering he does, is part of his thinking process.
I meander a lot. I need to walk a lot before settling into work. I need to read a lot of things that don’t seem to fit perfectly into my work, before I work. I sometimes need to stare out the window.
I’m not interested in teaching compliance. I’m interested in teaching students to trust who they are and to trust those that care about who they are.
Teachers do so many cool and crazy things to help students feel comfortable and safe in their learning spaces. I’m wondering what tips and tricks others have.
Goal: to not lose sight of the needs of each and every individual student.
Gratitude: Having Emily back.
Next up: we need to stop using labels. All labels.