I’m feeling pretty down today – after a peaceful guest-led experience on Friday, I felt like my students were out to get me. To reflect on the differences between my days, I want to try out a new form I found from Elisabeth at The Dirigible Plum. I’m changing it a little to read On Friday/Today.
On Friday, our Equity and Excellence Coordinator joined us to lead a lesson on tough conversations and active listening. During his lesson, he asked kids if they ever felt like someone wasn’t listening to them when they spoke. “Yes!” was the rallying cry. And how does that make you feel when that happens? he asked. “Sad!” “Upset!” “Ignored!” “Unimportant.” “ANGRY!” “Like they don’t really care what I’m saying.” I could relate.
Today, my students didn’t give me their full attention.
Friday, around 8:30am, a student brought the news into our classroom. We mourned the mosque shootings in New Zealand, and held our Muslim friends a little closer.
Today around 8:30am, someone shouted “SUBSCRIBE TO PEWDIEPIE!” and I felt rage burn inside me. I attempted to navigate the situation with a clear head, and mention that, hey, that phrase might not have the best connotation anymore, now that it’s been associated with such hate. Isn’t there something else you can yell instead?
Friday, my students spent a LOT of time listening – around 40 minutes with no turn-and-talk breaks. While most of them did a good job, I noticed others checking out, becoming restless. I wondered, Hm, is this what their other classes are like?
Today, we had reading time – 100% engagement – and book club discussions… and while it might not always be on topic, I got 100% engagement again. Yes, I got frustrated a few times, but realized: Hey, at least my students are active participants in something.
Friday, my room looked like a traditional classroom, with a lot of fun learning activities sprinkled in. The scene included students sitting and listening, an adult talking, students raising their hands to share thoughts with the whole group… and Skittles. I was amazed by how quiet and orderly my students seemed, and wondered if I’m just a horrible teacher for letting my students be loud in my class.
Today, I realized that, while it might not seem so calm and orderly, there is a lot more vibrancy in my loud classroom. But that doesn’t mean there is less structure: We have our reading time routine, marked by “mood lighting” as students enter the room, and bookended by a timer and my refrain, “Time to find a place for your bookmark. Turn and talk to someone near you about [insert prompt of the day here]…”. When we had our group discussions, I showed examples, posted discussion questions, and doled out roles for each member. There are structures, just not sit-and-get ones. We’ve made method out of madness.
Friday, I didn’t hold my students accountable for any learning. There was a guest present; I let him take the lead, and simply expected my students listen and learn.
Today, I began the lesson by sharing a take-away from Friday, then ended with students turning in a written record of something they discussed in book club. I know I could just take notes about what I hear and observe, but my memory is faulty… and I never have the presence of mind to jot my observations before the whirlwind end-of-class-beginning-of-the-next-ok-go.
So, no. Today didn’t all go to plan. But it was productive. It was vibrant. There were about 500 times the voices being heard, even if I wasn’t the one hearing them. Today was not Friday, but listing out the differences, I’m already feeling better about the day’s work.
Onward and upward.