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Sat. AM QB, Aug. 28 (late)

posted Aug 30, 2010, 2:37 AM by Michael Reilly
Usually, the first month of school can almost be fully scripted:  
  • Week 1: quiet and mellow students, submissive due to an early rising time, unknown teachers and social system, and common teen anxieties.
  • Week 2: much louder and energetic environment because they are used to the wakeup, have a comfort zone with their peers and teachers, and seem to enjoy "testing what's allowed" (and maybe I see it this way because it takes me a week longer to get used to getting up earlier)
  • Week 3: the week that can decide the tone of the year.  Grades begin to be published, schedules are just about done with fine tuning, and real communication flow back and forth between students begin.
Well, we just finished Week 3.  A major aspect of it was discovery of each other.  That is, some students appear to be thriving with freedom (some think they are, some actually are), and some students are very challenged and intimidated by so much responsibility and choice.  The actual problem: lack of communication, but we may have made progress.

In my eyes, students are my partners.  They are to be given choice and control, we teachers are guides and "customer service" to teach.  Many of our students were given assignments that were beyond their capabilities this week, but they didn't tell us that they were overwhelmed.  Maybe we should have seen it, maybe not.  I have frequently been accused of having expectations that border on "too high".  But when the week had ended, we got closer to the communication we all need.  We asked for anonymous feedback, and got some great stuff.  I confronted a couple of students and challenged them directly to criticize me, which they seemed to do well.  We're getting closer.

I hope this week can continue on that track of communication, of shared pace and project planning.  We're going to simplify a lot for those who prefer it: small groups will be pairs, a little more lecture in small chunks, additional clarity anticipated but also when requested.  As I tell them all of the time, their job is to ask for help, clarification, and to demonstrate learning.  My job is to serve those requests, and use my experience to guide their decisions and learning in what might work best for them.  We're getting there, I really think so. (And still love this job!)