Friday, February 10, 2017

Finding Validation

I've been home, sick, for the past two days. It's hard for me to come full stop, but I've learned that the best thing to do when you're sick is to heal. And if that means a lot of sleeping and tea and soup and video games and episodes of Star Trek: TNG (all interspersed with coughing fits), so be it.

One day of resting to heal is fine. But on the second day, I'm restless. I even tried to go to work today, but got turned around on my commute. When I walked back in the door, my husband looked at me and said, "I told you so." :) I then fell back asleep for another 4 hours.

But on this second day of rest and healing, I started to think about everything I was missing while I was home, sick - an inaugural event at local schools on science and tech, a separate regional event that all the other board co-ordinators attended, the interactions with my colleagues, and coaching opportunities with my gymnastics team. 

In a profession where I thrive on all those interactions with others, I was feeling left out, and unvalidated. So many people are accomplishing great things today! What am I doing?? Healing. As productive and contributive as my white blood cells are being, I certainly don't feel productive or contributive.

And that got me thinking about my students. When they are in school, what makes them feel valuable and worthwhile? Do they drift through their days feeling as though they haven't made an impact or a difference? Do they feel as though they contribute to their learning, or the learning of those around them? How can we make sure they feel productive and contributive?

Allow students to contribute

What do our students already know? What could they quickly find out? Instead of listing examples of amphibians in a note, could students seek out and find their own examples (and non-examples)? Can they come up with a way to design a lab, instead of always following instructions on how to set one up? How are they creating content for the course's curriculum?

Allow students to share

What can students teach others in a small group setting? How can they best share within the class? What can they communicate with a wider audience? How can students share what they're learning with other classes within the school? How can they connect with community members? Who looks to the students to learn?

Allow students to drive their learning

What interests students outside of school? How can their passions be used to further what they're learning in class? How can we provide choice in what or how the students learn? How can we make sure they are making gains in their learning every day? 

Allow students to provide input and feedback

How do the students feel about how they are learning in our classes? Are students included in the planning and assessment of the presented content? Are their actual learning needs the same as what we perceive them to be? Is their voice heard? How do their opinions on learning shape what happens in class?

How do you make sure your students feel valued, productive, and worthwhile in their pursuit of knowledge?

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