We’ve been teaching and learning online now for nearly four weeks. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked in more than twenty years of teaching. And I feel like I’m doing a worse job than I’ve ever done. I’m actually not beating myself up over it as I do recognize the challenges and limitations. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to do better.
In light of that, it seemed worth taking a moment to notice the things I am doing well. I’m trying to give my students as much control and ownership over their learning as possible. For my third graders that means they are now in charge of the daily pledge (which I hate) and morning message and choosing our exercise/dance/breathing breaks. Starting Monday they’ll be in charge of our morning meeting too. It also means as much flexibility as I can figure out how to manage when it comes to the activities they’re doing. For my undergrads it means lots of choice in their assignments and lots of small and whole group discussion.
For my third graders, I was feeling really frustrated by how much they wanted time to just chat together and how I couldn’t figure out what to do to make that happen. This week, on Tuesday and today, I opened up our classroom space for most of our hour lunch and recess time. I was there but working on other things, just as I likely would be if we ate lunch in our classroom as a whole class. Not that the whole class was there, of course. But about a third of the kids were. On Tuesday there was a lot of joke telling. Today they took turns (completely on their own) sharing things like a lost tooth and a ‘fully functioning’ Ironman mask.
On a daily basis there are things I hate about what I’ve planned and how we’re spending our time. But every day it’s getting better. Every day is more driven by the students and less by me. That alone is hopeful.
On a side note, fostering this one isn’t making this easier. He’s cute but he has no respect for boundaries.