In This Post:
- Teaching is not a destination. It is a journey of growth.
- Reflect on what your life as a student was like.
- Change in the classroom won’t happen all at once.
- Learning should be student-centered.
Lately, I have been reflecting on my school experience. As a student, I experienced the rigid rules of Catholic school. The desks arranged in rows, as the nuns walked up and down the aisles to make sure we were doing our work, detention was giving for talking out of turn, passing notes, or forgetting homework. It was eerie quiet as we were practicing cursive or rows and rows of monotonous math problems. The amount of homework was non-negotiable. Everything fit into a structure or routine. Every last minute.
The reason I am sharing this with you, is to encourage you to reflect on what your life as a student was like because whether you like it or not, you bring this background into the classroom. It is ingrained in your routines, your rules, your expectations. Once you own it, you can change it. Change in the classroom won’t happen all at once. It also doesn’t happen over night. The initial step of change can be hard but it is totally doable. Taking the plunge into the unknown of organized chaos is difficult but you will not regret it and you will not turn back. I promise. I have been there.[scroll down to keep reading]
I can share with you that I am still growing as a teacher. I am still learning. But most importantly, I am trying to incorporate student-driven learning. I did not go over the syllabus on the first day of school. Instead, I took the time to learn about my students. This has been a game changer for the community and tone for the rest of the year. I began to experiment with collaboration that initially felt uncomfortable.
Guess what, the school did not burn down and I am still alive. It might seem like baby steps, or insignificant, but for me it was huge. I have that first plunge away from rigidity. After I dove in, I quickly realized that I did not hit the bottom, but came up for air and kept going back for more.
The Journey Continues
I am in the process of learning and implementing an important lesson. Learning is student-centered. I have my high school diploma, but these students are in the middle of earning it. That means that THEY need to show a basic skill set, not me. Therefore, their voice and choice does matter. They will get there with facilitation but not dictatorship. I do not need to be in control nor do I need to have all eyes on me. I am there as a guide, they are the explorers.
PS. When they are active and driving their learning experience, you will find that those troubling behaviors will begin to diminish, cell phone use will go down, and the questions will increase!
ABOUT AUBREY JONES
Aubrey is a special education teacher. She looks to eradicate labels in the classroom and in the community. She is on the forefront of a movement entitled #nomorelabels and is working to promote a classroom community of success with structure and support. When she does not have her teacher hat on, she creates comics and loves escaping to the beach. Fueled by caffeine she hopes to push kids beyond their comfort zone to try and experience new and exciting things.