I got a glimpse into the true greatness of my students yesterday.
In my level 1 classes, we started with a meeting. I had my students pull their chairs into a circle and let them know we had equity of voice. I explained that overall things in class were going well, but we needed to make a few adjustments. I could have easily just handed them the new way we were going to do things, but I decided to go a different route. I decided to involve them in the decision making process. No, I decided to give them the decision making process. It is their learning – not mine, right?
I started by sharing a couple of observations…I had noticed that my students could improve at finding resources for practice. I have many different ways for them to practice, but there are only a few that are being well utilized. I also noticed that when independent work time is given that focus can be a problem. We needed to change that. We only spend 45 minutes together each day and time must be maximized. My students agreed with me and shared some of their own observations, concerns, and comments.
Then I turned the floor over to the kids to figure out how to make it better. I cannot tell you how proud I was of my kids. They came up with a new, better model of independent work days. Some of them asked for my opinion or suggestions, and I gave them. They expressed that they would like more small group instruction rather than whole group and figured out how to make it happen. They decided that each skill (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) would have its own place to practice. There would also be a places to practice the skills together (integrated), to use technology, and to assess.
All I can say is that kids need to be in charge of their learning. They are so capable and ready to take the reigns. Their decisions may not be perfect, but I would love to find the teacher that makes perfect decisions. I am sure we will have more tweaking to do as the year progresses, but you had better believe that when I see missteps, my students will be the ones to figure out how to get back on track. It is their learning, it is their experience, it is their time. It is not about me.