So the ongoing saga with my grade 10 IP class continued today, if you have been following my blog (read here) you will know we have hit a rough patch in our class. Last night I decided enough was enough and this needed to be confronted and resolved. Have you ever had those nights where you know you are going into a tough spot the next day and you play scenarios over and over in your head? Well, that was my night. For over two hours I thought and thought about what I was going to say, how I would say it and how I would respond if x or y happened. This morning I had a chance to have a conversation with a teacher about how I was feeling and how frustrated I was. She asked, "have you told them how you feel? And I mean not simply saying you are mad, but how you really feel." A strong question at the perfect time. I was able to jot down some notes about what they were doing in class that made me very happy and the few things that were frustrating me.
Then the meeting. We sat together in a classroom, door closed and we let it all out. I told them how happy I was with them and how great their work was but that there were some things that were frustrating me. One of my students said, "yeah, we noticed you were like a great big grump-opotamus the other day". It was the comment we needed to lighten the mood. Our conversation began as a one way with me doing all the talking, I then asked them the question, "what is it you are looking for?" There were several suggestions, most were valid. I won't go into detail about everything that was suggested, but believe me when I say there will be some changes to my planning for the next lesson. I will share one suggestion though. Normally I would give the students a topic to blog about (i.e. tell me about your favourite vacation, tell me about the first time you ever drove by yourself, etc.). A student asked why they couldn't just blog about what they were thinking about that day, about things that mattered to them. Duh! I felt so stupid. I asked the class if they would like that freedom, almost all of them said they would, a couple wanted me to keep giving suggestions so they wouldn't have to deal with writer's block.
I try my best to design lessons that I think will be rigorous enough to challenge the students but relevant enough to engage them so it does not feel so much like "work". Today I learned a good lesson; what I think is relevant to my students may in fact stiffle their creativity. We need to be careful when we try to get inside the head of our students and design lessons that will engage them. One solution that should be obvious is to talk to the students.
As always, comments are welcome.