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Response: Students Share Their Best School Experiences and What We Can Learn From Them

(This is the last post in a three-part series. You can see Part One here and Part Two here.)

 

The new "question-of-the-week" is:

What was the best moment you ever had in the classroom?


In Part One, Jen Schwanke, Amy Sandvold, Anne Jenks, and Sarah Thomas shared their top moments. You can listen to a 10-minute conversation I had with them on my BAM! Radio Show. You can also find a list of, and links to, previous shows here. 

In Part Two, Meghan Everette, Jeryl-Ann Asaro, Jeffery Galle, and Kara Vandas shared their memories.  I also included comments from readers.

Those first two posts offered the teacher perspective. Today, five students from my classes contribute short pieces about their favorite moments, and what others might be able to learn from them.

Response From Leslie Servin

During my time in high school I had it really good moments, but my best moments that I've experienced are in a particular class during my senior year, in Sacramento, Calif. So I was basically a new student in these kind of classes and also I'm English learner. I remember my first presentation in this class. I didn't want to do it, but finally I did it and that one was my best moment. When I went to present I felt afraid, and then when I presented I felt so good for the effort I applied on. Now I feel so much better than my first day of presentations because I now know that I can do whatever I want to do. The learnings that I acquire made it so good this moment because I know that I have to trust on me. Something teachers or students can learn from my experience is that we have to overcome our fears and not let them control ourselves because we can't know our capabilities if we are afraid.

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Response From Jesneel Singh

The best moment in class was when I was in 9th grade in sixth period. That was when I got into poetry and spoken word. Having that "character and scene" class made my life even greater. Not knowing anything about poetry, hating on poems about reading and writing it in the past. That class was fun in many ways. For example; there was this one time where we had to write our own plays and poems and perform them in front of the class. I felt alive, and the creative side of me came out. When I wrote my first poem in freshman year. I realized that it was fun and unique. I felt like I wanted to write more and more. When I performed my first poem to that class I found my passion. Since that day and today I have written over 400 poems and made two books. I have performed on many stages in small audience and in school. That was a good day for me because I can write my thoughts down and write the truth about the world. Teachers and students can learn from this experience that, you can find what best fits you.

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Response From Nancy Ramirez

I would say my best class moment would be from my sophomore year in high school. For my Spanish class, our teacher decided we would do a class circle (Editor's note: see "How To Practice Restorative Justice in Schools" for more information on class circles) for the day. She asked us a sequence of questions which required us to give a more in depth and heartfelt answer each time, starting with something along the lines of "How are you feeling?" and ending with "Why do you think that is?" A class circle which only should have lasted one day extended to three, with each and every single one of us having to share our deepest and darkest fears and insecurities. By then it felt more than just a class and opened my eyes to very different ways of teaching styles. I believe there is much to learn from this experience, both then and now. I have come to deeply appreciate not only the class but the teacher as well. This experience showed me the extent a relationship with your classmates and your teacher can go....

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Response From Oscar Salazar

The best moment I've ever experienced in school was last year when I was a sophomore. I took biology last year and towards the end of the year we got to dissect a fetal pig. I know that it sounds gross but it's really not. That's what I thought at first too. I did lots of fun experiments in that class that were new to me, such as making a small ecosystem in a bottle and dissecting owl pellets to find mouse skeletons. I think that these experiences were really fun and interesting. I've never done anything like that in a class before.       

I think that when teachers introduce students to hands-on activities and projects the students enjoy it more. Since we have more energy it's a good use of it. We learn better when we're allowed to move around and be creative. Our lives aren't going to be pen on paper or books forever. It's best to get us students to explore the world using our skills that we learn and strengthen our understanding of daily life that is sometimes hidden from us and exposed to us abruptly once we turn into adults.

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Response From Kayla Guzman

What has been my best moment in a class? I've had many great moments but perhaps the most best moment took place in my English class about a month ago. I had a 10-15 minute presentation and I felt pretty confident. 30 minutes before my presentation I decided to incorporate an actor for visual appeal, to correspond with my presentation. I felt even more confident, assure that I would captivate the audience's attention and keep them engaged. When my presentation started, I gave a signal to my actor which led me to drop my 8 notecards all over the floor. I was aware that the time was ticking, so I quickly grabbed all the notecards off the floor. I became overwhelmed with embarrassment, listening to the echoing laughter of the audience as I tried to rearrange the cards. The cards in my hand then became extremely restraining. My anxiety levels rose, and the disorganized cards just added stress to my emotions. I placed the cards down, and felt a great sense of relieve. My words, my explanations, my connections all flowed out my mouth with harmony, and I felt more natural and free as I presented my topic.

My presentation was a diagnosis of a character with schizophrenia, explaining the symptoms and the reasoning behind my diagnosis. The movement of my hands and my exaggeration presented by a drive of passion, along with my visual representative, kept the audience captive. I felt like a completely different person. By the end of the presentation I was sweaty, not by nervousness but because I left it all on the floor. I realized that the key to presenting with people is not getting their attention just by visual appeal. You need to let your heart pour out so that you can captivate their hearts, reach their souls. You can't just be the center of attention, you need to give the audience attention, you need to talk to them. First and foremost, you can't present without emotions. Anything you present should be built off of passion. As long as you can find a connection between yourself and the topic and exude your passion, you will keep the audience engaged.

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Thanks to Nancy, Jesneel, Kayla, Leslie, and Oscar for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment with your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected]. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Anyone whose question is selected for this weekly column can choose one free book from a number of education publishers.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. It's titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Just a reminder—you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email or RSS Reader. And, if you missed any of the highlights from the first six years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below. They don't include ones from this current year, but you can find those by clicking on the "answers" category found in the sidebar.

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I am also creating a Twitter list including all contributers to this column.

Look for the next "question-of-the-week" in a few days.

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