Working alongside the kids

Lately I have started participating more in what the students are doing. I sit down and work with them at their tables. I do art projects with them – not as an exemplar the night before. I read most days during DEAR. I went swimming with them and play soccer at recess with them. I participate in games and attempt to solve the same math problems they do. I am even writing my own chapter in our collaborative writing task. I wish I had the chance to join Phys Ed class. None of these tasks are things I overly enjoy, with the exception of DEAR. I do it because it makes the kids excited and I always wished my teachers would to the work they expected me to do.

My students love to critique my work and participate with me in the feedback loops. When I was helping my students develop confidence in giving feedback, I would bring in old university papers and grade 6 PAT examples. My papers were more fun. They had a chance to see revisions I made along the way based on feedback given to me by my professors and peers. They realized that feedback isn’t as helpful at the end when you already have a grade. It was valuable but it also showed them that I was opening myself up and making my work vulnerable as well.

Recently we played a game with our Artist-in-Residence Actor, Natalie. She was surprised I was joining in. I took a step back in the creation of our piece because my students have enough opinions as it is but I like getting up and joining in. I like the opportunity to work alongside the kids rather than away from the kids. Most importantly, they like it as well.

I really have moved away from being a “teacher” in the last couple months and started trying to show the kids that I am a learner and a participant as well. I won’t ever escape being the adult in the room but as that adult, my job is to make sure my students learn and take ownership over their learning experiences. Sometimes what they need is for me to step back but usually they need me to jump in with them.

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