Wednesday, December 18, 2013

That Class

Oh man. That class. I've got one this year.

How do I know? Pretty much everything that works fine in my other three history classes (my teaching load is four sections of history and one section of advisory) is met with a mixture of disbelief, resentment, and complaints.

Same projects. Same inquiry task. Same activity.

It's a struggle. And the negativity is seeping across the class.

Here's the thing though: when this class decides to get down to business, man do they ever crush it. There are a bunch of verbal students in this class. Kids who like to play with ideas. And when they get rolling on an idea, or set of ideas like they did on Wednesday, get out of the way. They absolutely crushed an 88 minute block period of prep work for our Socratic Seminar final. Destroyed it.

And therein lies the issue. That verbalness, when directed towards ideas, is an absolute joy to be around. To listen to. To be a part of. But when it is negatively targeted at a project or a class in general it can spiral quickly.

The positives here? The negativity is concentrated in one class so it remains pretty contained there. Kids will still show up and think. Folks aren't cutting class. On the scale of problems, it is pretty minor.

But vexing. So vexing. This is going to sound arrogant, but so be it. My class affords kids the opportunity to make meaningful choices about there education. The content of their projects. The way they get to demonstrate their knowledge. Even their 20% time projects - which are entirely passion-based - are a struggle for this class.

I get the general monotony of school. Show up. Do what you're told. Go to your next class. Where's the student voice? Where's the student choice?

I was hopeful that the structure of my class this year would deal with some of these issues of disengagement and disenchantment. Clearly I've got a long way to go.

This class is going to be a topic of much reflection over winter break. I've got a lot of work to do to make sure that this class's last semester with me is a positive one. A memorable one. And a memorable one for the right reasons.