I’m going back to a prompt from a couple of weeks ago . . .
Would I want to be a student in my own classroom?
I’m doubtful this is the right question to ask. Of course I’d want to be a student in my own classroom . . . I plan learning activities and have discussions around topics that I’m interested in and passionate about. I’m totally engaged and learning, and so are all the students who are similar in learning styles and interests to me.
My yardstick for my classroom is usually my son, and whether he’d want to be in my classroom. He’s 15, and school has never been his favourite place. He’s also not one of those kids who will sit quietly and endure something he’s not enjoying, which means that there’s also been quite a bit of conflict in his school life. And when we talk about it and he tells me why he feels frustrated and unfulfilled at school, I know he has a point. The one-size-fits-all, sit-down-and-shut-up, do-what-I-tell-you model that so many classrooms follow doesn’t work for kids like him, if it works for anyone at all.
My son would thrive in a classroom where he had some choice – a choice of where he sits, what he learns, the way in which he completes assignments, the order in which he completes activities. He’d also be successful with a teacher who he feels cares about him. Because he’s so often “that kid”, there haven’t been many teachers in his life who have made the effort to get to know him – his interests or his fears. Those who have developed a relationship with him have seen him blossom.
And that’s my question, always – “Would he want to be here?” If I can reply that I’m working on relationships with my students, that I’m giving them choice, that I’m helping them follow their passions, I think I’m doing okay. And from okay, I can work towards great.
There are few things as enlightening, and humbling, for a teacher than having your own child struggle in the school system. My son has been a great catalyst for me to become more innovative so I can better meet the needs of students like him. I am so thankful to him for making me a better teacher.