Sunday, December 11, 2016

In Their Words #1: Ownership

How often do we ask students for feedback?  Not often enough, I'd guess!  A few days ago, I asked students for feedback on my class and teaching.  It was pretty simple - the two questions I asked were:

1. What is something you really like about _____'s teaching?
2. What is one thing you think _____ could do to be a better teacher or help you more?

Every time I do something like this, I know it's good, but it also is scary.  It's a vulnerable place to be in, asking students for feedback on your practice!  And the kids are honest.  They tell you what they are thinking.  I did this anonymously, because I wanted to really get to their thoughts.  They had some amazing responses that sparked a lot of thinking about teaching and education in general.  This sparked the idea for a series of blog posts about what I learned from their responses!

"I really love how _____ lets us be our own teachers at times and is not always trying to control every aspect of our learning."

"I really like how _____ lets us pick out own seats, and trusts us on our own"

These two statements struck me as profound because they point out just how often students do not feel like they are in control of their own learning.  I know that I, as a teacher, am guilty of trying to make everything in the classroom go exactly as I planned it, without accounting for the 30 other people in the room who might have different needs.

Now, I'm not arguing for chaos or freedom without responsibility - boundaries need to be set and students need to be taught how to take ownership appropriately.  But what if we gave students a bigger stake in their learning?  What if we trusted them more?  What if we let them learn and discover instead of just "getting through" our lessons?

Students, especially as they get older, value independence.  They value feeling trusted by the adults in their lives.  They value the chance to have a say in their own learning.  So let's honor and acknowledge that in the work we do in the classroom!

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