Day 107 (of 186) mixed compliments
The other day I was dropping my daughter off at work and she started talking to a “regular” – who then pointed out that she loved my tedx talk and that reminded me that she has done a lot of work on Facebook on anxiety and our community. And then she said: one of my friends daughters is in your class. She is so happy and “thinks you have been perfect for her daughter” (I think I can do the math and figure out who it is….but I won’t make assumptions).
And then one of my Boys (autism and some anxiety and fabulous parents who Get him) shares that he wonders if it’s right that our classroom is so “easy” and it is likely that things will be “harder” next year. Because as he pointed out, I don’t use a math textbook and don’t do math homework (because I want kids to love it not dread it) and as he wonders about “fairness” a lot – is it fair that we don’t have as many obstacles this year that we might face in the next years…..(which is course brings up an ongoing question I ponder about adversity: is it needed for bigger success – would the Beatles have bee “THE Beatles” if they didn’t have a music teacher that they hated….does school have a purpose by being an entity to be overcome….)
I admit that I prefer to focus on deeper thinking and less “busy work”. And really – our room is very anxiety-friendly because so many in this crew have “heavy backpacks”. So I’m not as far along in reading as I would like to be, but I need to break down the walls-of-resistance before we can enhance our literacy skills. I’m happy with numeracy, but again I’m not guided by a textbook so I can personalize the numeracy experience – so he might be right if he goes to classrooms with a “one size will fit all” mindset that is focused on task-paper-completion-activities – it may be difficult (for the teacher as well!).
But I know I am hearing more and more that educators are shifting away from one-size-fits-all mindsets – because that is a great first step! And I think I’m seeing more educators take those first steps….and like them!
And as a non-traditionalist exemplar:
I won’t do spelling lists as those have long been proven to not be efficient at much more than training kids how to memorize something for a short period of time, replicate it and move on. Spelling needs to be much more – as my mother in law responded as I explained how I use “making words” as a game (fowl words online) big word with many small words and I tweak mine so we are working on spelling rules: ough -ly words -ed and -ing – looking for spelling blends inside of bigger words – thinking about why they are spelling rather than memorizing a group of words for a Friday repetition-session.
So the boy might be right….next year may be trickier. But with educators reflecting on what we know about how brains work (and mental wellness and ptsd and and and) we are able to better personalize learning journeys instead of finding the one text that will work for all learners!! I have faith that the journeys of students of this generation will be much more personalized than in any previous generation. And that is a good thing!
Both “compliments” acknowledge two key things – that I am comfortable “doing different” to engage the students I work with. But I do worry about the “what about next year” because sometimes that thinking – that we are preparing students for middle school….high school….university – are often based on misconceptions – because all educators are making improvements and many classrooms are looking less and less like they did when parents were in school….even in universities….things are changing (just not as fast as I wished they would).