Lauralee,The Language Arts Classroom:
My students continuously teach me lessons.
I teach throughout the summer (at a camp) and a few weeks ago, a student was misbehaving. He wanted to interrupt, ignore the assignments, overall difficult. I tried giving him more attention, asking him what would make the situation better, everything.
After class, I decided to look up his medical form. Since this is a camp, we don’t have IEPs, etc. Sure enough – a diagnosis on his medical form made me conclude he probably had an IEP. I called him mom and asked her what I could do to make his day easier and she gave me a few ideas – mostly he had trouble with his lunch card.
Always research if you can, always do extra, always ask!
Tara, Science in the City: I teach in a very urban district. We are in one of the most economically segregated areas. Over several years of working in that environment, and reading and informing myself on poverty and urban education, I have come to the conclusion that our schools need to be truly integrated. This was reinforced this year by a conversation with a student.
My student after being in and out of foster care for many years, declared herself independent, works, gets SS, but lives on her own. She has for a few years. She’s now 17 and about to graduate. One day, she and I were talking about the difference that gives her such a drive to succeed, in the face of so many things against her. She said it was many things (her own internal desire, her church, etc). One thing that she attributed it to was her foster care. She has some bad experiences in foster care, but she says that she got a chance to see how other people live, and what a family can mean, or be. For me, it was a very thought provoking and eye opening conversation, as well as strong support for at least exposing students to other lifestyles and backgrounds.
Dawn, Algebra Simplified: This year I witnessed a student flounder in an IEP meeting when asked to sign his name to paperwork. He asked, “Does it have to be in cursive?” This was a high school freshman in my class. I hid my mortification and decided at that moment I have been too narrow-minded about what I am responsible for teaching my students. Another student voluntarily shared his passion for hockey with me on a regular basis (although I know little about hockey). He also shared his woes from other classes where he felt demotivated about learning. It was as if you could see the flame snuffed out in this kid. His transparency challenged me to think about how I foster the joy of learning in my students. Perspective, that’s what they gave me. I needed some. (P.S. The one kid can now sign his name in cursive.)
Is there a lesson that a student taught you this year? What did you learn?