Read guest blogger Sam Williams' experiences with Math Night at Curtis High School in Staten Island, NY. All 21st century learners have choices, but we need to engage them by doing. This group of students build a bridge.
Assessing students is a nuanced business and recognizing what a child brings to the table is essential to truly understanding what they know and can do. Penalizing them or crediting them extra for work that doesn't show real learning or thinking, but any number of other compliance measures that make us as educators feel powerful in the name of preparing kids "for life".
Starting from scratch seemed the only thing to do when I was seeing success with only 2% of my students who were auditory or straight up visual learners. My lessons weren't dynamic enough - They didn't consider the students' needs and/or deficiencies or their interests, so with some encouragement from my coach and mentor, I had to stop and get a do over.
In the grand scheme of things, reading Shakespeare is still worthwhile, but we must find a way to help all students access it. When working with students who are reading below grade level and may not have a high interest in reading, we must try different kinds of projects that can get them excited about texts they wouldn't select on their own. What they will hopefully find is that Shakespeare is actually a bad ass. Macbeth is exciting and gory and it gets to the very nature of how power can corrupt people. The universal themes show throughout the play ...
Classroom teaching and being a part of a school community requires so much of every individual. If you're the kind of teacher who wants to take advantage of all it, there is no way you won't grow from the experience. Whether through the day to day in the classroom or the professional learning opportunities both in and out school, when teachers choose to learn, they do and we are qualified for a great many jobs.
When life gets tough, wear a tutu or whatever your tutu, box or dance is and don't care who's watching when you wear it, jump out it, or dance it. Life's too short to take it all seriously, I hope this makes you smile.
Life is unpredictable and so are the events in a classroom. We can certainly have a toolkit of skills and strategies ready to be used, but believing this will save us from potential failure at times is foolish. We must accept that taking risks will promote big possibilities but might not work out as planned.
During this Teacher Appreciation Week (and really every day), we must take the opportunity to say thank you to the folks who have impacted us as teachers and people and continue to inspire us even through the toughest teaching and personal times.
From wizarding prejudices that mimic our real world hierarchies and racial complexities to learning truths about ourselves and others, Rowling explores societal challenges in a way that children and adults can relate to and possibly even start a deeper dialogue about.
At the heart of everything we do, we must be offering students a chance to grow as learners by exploring the world around them in a personally meaningful way. Going deeper than mere test questions is essential to them becoming life long learners.