Saturday, October 31, 2015

Have you ever experienced your class as a student?

Dear Readers,

After reading books like Pure Genius, Master the Media, Teach Like a Pirate, Learn Like a Pirate, Ditch that Textbook and Google Classroom, I have decided to allow students to co-teach and/or independently instruct the class. I experienced my first day as a student in Ms. Gross' 8th grade Language and Literacy Class.

The lesson for the day was differentiating between Storytelling vs. Newscast Writing. Two of my students had taken on the challenge of teaching the class. I took a seat towards the back of the room to maximize my view of the entire class. 

Some of my observations:
  • The student to the left of me was pulling up pictures on Google despite the direction to not engage with it yet. Not a huge distraction, just pulled up 1 picture and let it sit there. (It caused me to divert my attention away from the learning.)
  • The student to the right of me was tapping his pen. It seemed as though he was listening and did not realize he was doing it. (However, it caught my attention and I turned to watch for a few moments.)
  • Two students directly across my line of vision were frantically raising their hands and trying to get the teachers' attention. (In watching them, I missed the instruction and what the teachers were saying.)
  • I got up to reference an anchor chart and started to engage in conversation with some students. The teachers came up to me and very respectfully said, "Ms. Gross, you need to have a seat." I sat on a desk in the back of the room and was promptly told, "Ms. Gross! You need to sit in a chair!" Laughing, I fell back into my chair. (Unfortunately, I was the distraction.)
  • It was a very relaxed atmosphere. I felt very comfortable. (My hope is this is how my students feel as well.)
Some of my reflections:
  • It was difficult to follow the instruction when so much was happening around me. Is this what my students experience daily? How can I help create a learning environment where every student is successful?
  • I wanted to talk with other students. It was difficult not to. How can I continue to empower students to lead instruction and participate in conversations?
  • It was difficult to focus when the teachers stayed in the front of the room. I need to keep my practice of "wandering" the room.
My Biggest Take-Away:
  • My students and I have created an amazing climate and culture in our classroom. One where students are willing to take risks and be leaders, while being themselves.
Thank you to my 8th graders who I have known since they were 4th graders. I have learned so much from you over the years, especially the last 2 looping as a Language & Literature class. You inspire me, you support me in my instructional decisions, you collaborate with me and you brighten my days.

I hope you, my readers, feel the same way about your students, staff, etc.