Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Slice of Life - Choice, Engagement, Relationships

Slice of Life is sponsored on Tuesdays by Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are posting a slice each day on our blog. Join in!

I’ve been thinking a lot about choice recently. Choice, engagement, relationships – it is all circling around in my mind. My students will be completing the final day of state testing today. I have wandered the room, putting my hand on their back for encouragement, as they work – and boy have they worked. This class has floored me. They are fun, chatty, silly, and like to often find a shorter way to do any assignment. If they don’t see a purpose for something, it is a hard sell. And truly, this made me wonder what they would do on these tests. Yet, they have worked hard. Yesterday was our writing portion. Wowza. I wish I was allowed to read and copy their writing, because just what I saw when I walked around impressed me. And yet, it is simply for a test.

As a result of the morning schedule being exhausting, our afternoons have been filled with what they love – reading, writing, choice. Yesterday we sat on our carpet meeting space and I shared with them my presentation from the night before. My student, Delaney, asked me to share her blog with the class, and so I did. Questions began firing from every corner of the room – how did she do that? Do you have to know how to create a website? Can we all create one right now?

I had to smile. These kids are tough sells at times. Write me an essay on the importance of recycling? No, thanks. Too much work. Go create a blog of your own that you will have to do all of the work on, all of the writing, and manage regularly. Yes, sign me up.

This made me think a lot about students today. Unfairly, I think they often get a bad wrap. What I see in my students is passion, creativity, a desire to help, a desire to create. We just have to figure out a way to tap into that. My students left with directions on how to start a blog, if they wanted to begin one. I told them I would be their mentor and could help them, but because of their age they needed parental permission and to create it at home. Judging by the messages I received last night, Delaney’s blog is no longer the only one in our class – several have been created and more are in the works.

Choice, engagement, relationships. I see that those three tenets are what hold my classroom together. I think that the relationships make me see the importance in choice and both lead to deeper engagement in my students, but it is something I want to come back to and think about more. Until then, happy last day of testing, my fabulous kids. You’ve got this.