Sunday, September 29, 2013

Teaching Reflection

Friday morning I began the day as I always do, catching up on blog posts. I read this one from Pernille Ripp on what her students wanted her to notice. It made me pause.

I always build in reflection into our day, week, month, year. I tell them over and over that the only way to become a better person is to think about where you are and where you want to be. We reflect on our effort in regard to projects, on our behavior in class, on my teaching, etc. When I read Pernielle’s September reflection I was intrigued by the last question,

For October, I wish Mrs. Ripp would notice

Wow. That question made me pause. What would they answer? For a second it worried me – would it show I had missed something big? And then I shook my head. If I have missed something – do I want to keep missing it or do I want to know what is going on? I wanted to know.

I handed out my September reflection – similar to Pernille’s with several questions about reading and writing thrown in. I read the questions aloud to each of my three classes and explained what our purpose was with this reflection. And then I waited.

For the majority of the questions I got the answers I expected. Several wrote how they have struggled with math and made it a goal for next month. (We’ve switched programs and are fully implementing CCSS, so math has been hard for them.) Several wrote how they feel they’re reading more than ever, which didn’t surprise me. Many kids shared that they’ve had some friend issues but are choosing to be kinder after some of our character lessons. One referenced the Walter Payton discussion I wrote about Friday and how he had thought of it during the football game. And then I reached the last question. I had written:

For October, I wish Mrs. S’s would notice…

Nothing, we’re good.

That some of us do choose to be kind, we’re not all mean.

I really am struggling in the other subjects.

I want to be kind, but others don’t. They are mean to me.

I don’t eat breakfast.

I have awesome reading skills.

I am trying.

I read so slow.

I try my hardest.

I am better than I look at things.

How much I read.

I love to read.

That we love her too.

How hard it is for me to find a book I love.

That I am worried because I still don’t love reading.

I am doing better than I was.

I’m trying.

And on, and on, and on. Eighty surveys. Eighty various answers. Some drew pictures for me and made my heart soar. Some made my heart hurt.

This class. This class I have heard about for six years in our district. This class that I have witnesses some of the most unkind acts at recess in my eighteen years of teaching. This class that is worming their way into my heart. I want to take so many of them home with me. I look at their smiling faces and know the sadness that some of them carry, the worries. How could I have been afraid of more reflection? Every piece of themselves they share with me teaches me something new. I grow more and more determined to reach each of them. To help them grow, change, and learn. This reflection was the best way for us to spend our Friday morning. I can’t wait to teach them Monday with the knowledge I have taken from this. And I absolutely cannot wait to see this group in May.  I think they have more potential for change than any group I have ever taught. Now I just have to get them to believe that too.