I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Responding to Student Concerns

Being a teacher means being vulnerable.

All day. Every day.

And it means genuinely listening to students' concerns.

Take today, for example. We were prepared to have our regularly scheduled Community Circle to discuss our school's upcoming "campaign" for Screen Free Week, but a student raised her hand and thoughtfully asked, "Why, in the other class, do they get to doodle while they are taking notes and we don't?"

Well, that question came out of the blue. (It's amazing what bothers and concerns these students sometimes...)

But we discussed it. (And most of the students had pretty strong opinions about the topic.)

My co-teacher and I waited awhile and let them take turns getting it all out, and then I told a quick story - a story that showed I had made a mistake. (That's vulnerability for you - nothing like pointing out your own mistakes to a bunch of 9 and 10 year olds when they are usually eager enough as it is to point them out for you.) It also showed why doodling is often more distracting than helpful...

Yesterday (literally), I was in my weekly Pillars class learning about the Sacraments, when, in the middle, I found myself doodling. I got more involved in what I was designing on my paper than what I was listening to going on right in front of me. When I finally realized what I was doing, I turned my papers over (because I was embarrassed that I had all those pictures on my paper and it looked messy), and I quickly read the board in hopes of gaining some understanding of what I just missed.

No more doodling for Ms. Foyle.

I have no doubt that doodling helps some students, but many of our students get so wrapped up in highlighting their name tags, playing with their hair/pencils/anything nailed or not nailed down, "sneaking" books when they should be listening to directions, poking holes in their literacy boxes -You get the picture, right? - that they don't really listen or engage in what we are talking about. And so, as my co-teacher and I wanted to make our kiddos understand, if these students start making unrelated pictures on their papers during class, they may be having more fun, but they're probably not learning quite so much.

This did lead us into another discussion of how we can incorporate more opportunities for art (and, yes, even doodling), movement, and creative outlets in our classroom, so now we (teachers) are on a mission to create those opportunities every day.

It's time to hit them with our best shot...

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