Friday, May 10, 2013

#Choose2Matter Project: Teacher Reflection Part 2: Students, I just don't get sometimes!!!

We are wrapping up our second week of working on the amazing #Choose2Matter project. As I have shared in a previous post, this project is causing my brain to ooze out of my ears. After one more week of working, adding more students to the mix, and navigating my way through the channels of learning how to learn I had to send out the following email to all of my students.

Hello everyone!

Another week has gone by as we prepare to get things moving into the next phase of this project this week.

Over the weekend I will be emailing all of you individually letting you know how I think you are doing. I think that so far we have students ranging from doing some amazing things and others who are not contributing much. This is all learning process as you are being asked to think in new ways and do things without following step by step directions. I will hope to provide some guidance on these issues soon, but in the meantime I wanted to touch base via email to just go over everything we have talked about doing this week each day in class.

1. Every person in this project - both Dream Team and Quest Team(project people) should have AT LEAST two blog posts about their learning journey. These should be more than just one statement. Go into detail about what you are doing, what you are accomplishing, what you are learning, questions you have, things you are struggling with, etc. These should be deep reflections. As some of you are not sure what to write about, then this should be the red flag in your mind telling you that YOU ARE NOT DOING ENOUGH!!!

You are given over 200 minutes of class time each week to work. Do you have 200 minutes worth of work shared, documented, collaborated, and moving forward? If not, then you are not digging deep to challenge yourself.

2. DREAM TEAM - You are answer to the question

What is the purpose of education?

You have had all week to work on this question as I know there has not been much going on with your actual teams. Your answers should be thoughtful and presented in a deep meaningful way. Be sure you have your voices heard. I have reviewed some amazing videos and projects already. REMEMBER: You answer to this question should reflect that you spent more than 10 minutes on it. Be creative and challenge yourself.

3. PROJECT TEAM - keep working hard to make your project happen. This project is about you owning this. Don't just sit and wait for people to call back to do your work. They want to see what YOU are doing. I know that for the projects to work you need additional help, but challenge yourself to get things done. Next week you have to submit your project so begin to think about how you want to showcase your project. Are you taking pictures, documenting your journey, have a vision for what else is needed? Now is the time to think about how you are going to share out your project on your blog in addition to working to make the project happen.

If you need the weekend to rework, add, modify, etc. anything please use it.If you are fixing things and need me to look at something else please let me know. I am resource, but will not give you the answer. YOU must LEARN how to LEARN and to CHALLENGE yourself.

***End Email***

I share this with you because at sit a crossroads as a teacher. The very same crossroads that I think all teachers face in education. How do we get kids to push themselves? I have some students who are blowing me out of the water with their ideas, articulation, self drive, teaching themselves how to learn, communication, etc.

I have others who just don't "get it". Maybe thinking on their own is too hard. Maybe they are scared. Maybe they don't know how? I am letting them figure it out on their own. What is hard to gauge is who is being lazy vs. who is just stuck? At the middle school level they don't always like to ask questions.

I want them to challenge themselves.

I want them to learn how to learn because that is the real world. Can you learn x so you can accomplish y? The world needs more thinkers and people who can learn and adapt.

I want my students to rise to the top and exceed their expectations as well as mine. I have lofty goals and I do become frustrated when I see them no push themselves. If you look on our class blog we have started where they must document their learning you will see what I mean. Some are doing great things and others not that much.

The key piece here is how to know when to push and get on their case and when to just let them explore because they are at a plateau right now and not sure how to scale the next mountain? It is a delicate balance a teacher must figure out and do right to help them be the people I want them to be.

I hope that another week of poking and prodding I will have some of them begin to take charge, not depend on others, and MAKE IT HAPPEN! That is what I want. I know they will be most proud if they do that even if they don't realize it yet.


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