During our English lesson on Wednesday,14 November, the kids were working on their literacy activities. I had been thinking about what George Couros had said about ourselves as learners and about reflecting. Our days are so jam packed with everything we need to cover that we can lose sight of connecting with the kids on a personal level. We need to make time to actually stop and ask ‘How did you do today?’ and then stop to listen.
I was observing the class and wondering how they were doing. On the outside it looked and sounded like they were all on task and working independently but with 27 in the class I wasn’t sure. I normally move through the room helping and touching base with the kids but as I had two colleagues supporting me in the class I decided to try something a little different.
I asked all the kids to stop using a lead pencil and to pick up a colored pencil. The looks on some of their faces were priceless! Most did as I asked, some hesitated but waited for what was to come next. I then asked them to write about how they were doing with their work and why. Again a look of bemusement from some but a brave bunch started to write, in colour on their ‘good’ work’
I kept encouraging them that it was ok and that we were finding out more about ourselves as learners today. They got into it and one brave soul who was out of his comfort zone said ‘You’re freaking me out Tina!’ I asked him why and he replied that he doesn’t use colored pencil in his ‘good’ writing. That started the ball rolling because quite a few agreed with him and started discussing it. They agreed that in class they do use colored pencils but not for ‘good writing’. This was interesting as I hadn’t realised this before now.
My colleagues and I helped the kids with any questions and the students were then ready to share. Some of the comments were amazing and very honest. The number of kids that were really hard on themselves with comments like – I didn’t work so well because I was talking – worried me a little as I teach in a busy environment which isn’t always quiet and there are lots of opportunities to collaborate and work with others.
Another comment was ‘I worked well because I knew what I was doing.’ This came from a student who started the year needing constant reassurance from me that he was doing the right thing. He now gets on with his work trusting himself that he is doing it ok.
There were many and varied comments as some students were more comfortable with the activity than others.
We will discuss the whole experience on Monday when I am back in class and I am looking forward to hearing what the kids have to say. I will see which students are happy to have their responses filmed so that we can go back in a few weeks after doing this activity again and compare responses.