I start my morning each day at school with my “General STEM” class. What this means is I have 30+ students who are all working on different STEM projects. The good news: they are all so excited. The bad news: they are all so excited.
Our grade level offers some specific STEM classes and two general ones. I always offer to teach the general one because I love the ebb and flow of all the ideas. It’s messy. Super messy. I’m good with messy though.
I also start each morning with getting, and I will say this honestly, with getting bossed around. Sometimes my students couch their bossiness in polite questions, well, actually, they always do, but, really, they’re bossy.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot. They’re bossy because they are working, and they need my help to get their jobs done.
They’re bossy because they own their work. They’re bossy the way that I am with my bosses with what I need. I am polite, but I’m specific. I also know that if I’m doing my job as I should, that I should expect a certain support.
This is what my STEM kids are doing. They are owning their work, and they are expecting support.
It. Is. Awesome.
And it’s not just during STEM block.
In language arts, my students are getting better and better at realizing how much they own their work. They’re making more decisions that are authentic to their lives. One student, who has been reading blogs, was having trouble wrapping her brain around how she could write her own blog. (I know the feeling!). She sent me this email yesterday:
Hi Ms. Cribby. I have been exploring a lot of tennis blogs. ( There are not a lot of the kind I have been looking for.)I've been really thinking specifically about what I want to blog about. I think I want blog about pros, and strategies. I found a really good website that I wish other tennis players would look at. The website is called Active. It is not a real " blog," but it has a lot of good information that I like, but there is so much. I was thinking maybe I could take some topics from there, and writet about that, and my opinion on it. I am also planning on keeping people updated on what is happening with pros, pro tournaments, and tournaments I participate in. I am wondering what is the next step in starting my blog. My dad always forwards me interesting articles/videos from this sight. ( So it is very trustworthy.) Thank you!
Here was my answer:
I would start writing in your writing document, and then transfer it into your blog when you're ready. Think about also having a plan for when you update your blog. For instance, I keep wanting to have a day of the week that I update my blog, but I'm still struggling with that.
I forgot if you're using Weebly? Your plan sounds fantastic! You'll hone it as you go too, as far as what you want to do with it. I love your ideas. So authentic.
I felt like she was ready for a nuts and bolts answer, and she was. We talked a bit after, and I clarified that she should write her blog in her writing document, so that she could get feedback before she published.
This particular student likes to “ping” me on email. That’s a good platform for her because she’s able to articulate her questions, and she “gets it” pretty quickly. She also likes a lot of feedback and seeks it out. Her process is to ask for feedback and run with it. So, though she reaches out a lot, she also is able to incorporate some high level ideas.
We have our students write emails once a week to their families, explaining what they’re learning in all of their classes. We also expect them to include links to their works and to include how they’re feeling about all of school, not just the academic. It’s amazing. Parents love it. Students love it. I read every email every week, and I learn so much. I am so grateful for this look into their lives. I don’t respond every week to every student, but I get to. They craft their emails each week into their daily work document, and so I read their emails and grade them “a la notebook” style once every 3-4 weeks. But I read them all as they come in, in real time. It’s such authentic writing. This week, I read this from one of my students, a young man who is super quiet:
I like this class because it gives you choice and and complexity to go how far on the topic you want and how indepth you can into it. (IMPORTANT MESSAGE: My fire-works document is due tomorrow and I’m hoping to get a 4 but I need to do some things to make it a 4. First of all I need to get some of my self evaluations done. Self evaluations are a really part of my work and I’m missing some of them. Second, I need to go back and revise some of my fire-ups. This would be awesome because some of my Fire-ups need more depth. These are the necessary revisions I need to get a 4.
I loved reading his perspective, this quiet young man.
Another student, in her emai wrote about how she gets to choose the “rhythm” of her language arts classroom work.
I like that word, rhythm, for how we work. We all have a rhythm. I know I work in fits and spurts. I sometimes have to nest a bit, clean, organize. Sometimes I have to run around the building, pretending to be doing something but really just needing to explode my energy.
I always need classical music to make me focus.
I work furiously sometimes, chatting with students in real time and online during class. Ideally, the way class is structured, that’s all I do. But sometimes I look out the window, wander around, watching students work. Sometimes I am a bad student and start chit-chatting with students about something silly. Or I read the weather, teacher blogs, news.
So, when I read my student’s email about how she likes to get to find her rhythm in her work in language arts. I was moved. Moved by her words and moved by what I get to be a part of.
Goal: keep learning from my amazing students.
Gratitude: learning from my amazing students.