Grumpy. That's what I am. I was so sure I would be able to transform my teaching this year. After years of encouraging teachers to take a chance, become student-centered, try technology, take a risk….I was back in the classroom in a 1:1 program myself. I looked forward to seeing how I would use web 2.0 tools to make them better writers and thinkers. I wouldn't have any bored students in MY class. Oh no. Oh yes. Today I looked around my class, and saw it in their eyes. And it was not an unfamiliar look. You know it. The glazed eyes, the "I'm looking at you but I"m not really listening" look. As they left the classroom, I plopped myself down in one of the comfortable lounge chair I purchased from Target over the summer and pondered what I'd done wrong. Oh, I am not so naive to think it's all me. Teenagers have bad days. Sometimes they are on, and sometimes life interferes in their ability to focus and participate. But I have the sense with this class (and it is only one of three), that the problem is partially me. Anyway, I did what I always do when I want to reflect upon my concerns. I connect with colleagues. Susanne's blog post resonated with me today. She was writing about her own students when she said:
So what does this mean? First, it reminds me of the learning process —
learning starts out slow because those early stages can be hard. As
teachers, we have a duty to try to show our students WHY they might
enjoy this new learning, but I know I rarely grab every student as I try to do this.
Ok, that's true, I thought. And in ninth-grade, the early stages are even more difficult as we expose them to learning with their laptops, adjusting to a new collegiate schedule that gives them "unscheduled" time, and managing a more rigorous course load. Why is this so important to me? Is it ego, the need to feel as if I am reaching and inspiring every student? I'm not sure. I feel frustrated, and I don't have any easy answers. But I know tonight I am thinking again, of ways to step aside, to ask them to participate in their own learning, to not stare at me as if some magic words will come out of my mouth to "educate" them. Tomorrow they are bringing in drafts of their persuasive essays entitled, "What Matters to You?" I am eager to see what they care about. And I hope they care to share with me and each other. I know where I want them to go. So, as Stephen Covey says….. Begin with the end in mind.