Friday, February 19, 2010

Goal #13: Give Students Reign

This goal presented itself somewhat unexpectedly.

We spent today in the library doing some study group reflections on the week, working on a couple of different research activities, making videos for the "Why Shakespeare?" project, and playing with my Kindle. Just before my AP Language students headed out for lunch, a few of the girls in the class called me over to their table. They looked... defeated.

The gist of the conversation was this:

1. They are frustrated with monotony in class after class.
2. Some of them are involved in an awesome program that gives them hands-on training in health-related fields, and they recently found out that to receive their one required health credit they must also sit through a semester's worth of a textbook-and-lecture type class. A semester of practical experiences, job shadowing, etc. alone won't count.
3. As part of a Sister Cities program, they traveled abroad last summer and were able to get a taste of student life outside of the U.S. Their assessment was that the practices they observed there made far more sense and seemed much more likely to prepare students for the real world than many of our current practices.

They said they didn't feel this frustration regarding my class, which was nice of them, but I know that I can improve in terms of providing them with what they need how they need it.

My response... First, I resisted the urge to make any preacher-choir comments. I told them that - while I can't become Queen of the Schools for a day and magically make things make sense in the world of public education (though I do wish for it with all my pennies, most of my stray eyelashes, and the occasional dandelion) - I might be able to give them a bit more say during the 98 minutes they're in my class each day.

I proposed a 3rd block student takeover, during which time they'll get to design a lesson that reflects what they want and need from an English / Language Arts class and how they think those things should be delivered. They shared the idea with some of their classmates, who seemed at least somewhat intrigued by the idea.

Next week, we'll be discussing the details of what they'll do for their block of time and when that time will be. I'm excited to hear about their ideas and to learn from my kids.


  1. That's awesome! I posted your blog on my elearning course for some other English teachers to see. They liked it. Let me know how giving students reign goes. Reminds me of the movie "Reign of Fire". Watch out for dragons!

  2. @Mel: Oh, but we like dragons! They know how to liven things up a bit when they're not roasting your kinsmen or guarding their hoards. Thanks so much for the happy comments and the sharing :)