Wow, already Week 3 Term 3 in Victorian schools. I’ve been meaning to write this blog since Week 1. I decided that after a term in my particular school, getting to know my students and watching them learn to learn, I felt compelled to try the “I wish my teacher knew…” scenarios. Of course, I came across the idea on my twitter and fb feeds and always thought it would be great to try it someday. Since I’m not always at a school for a long period of time I hadn’t had a chance before now. Since we had now been learning together for 11 weeks, it was time.
I would NEVER do this without first forming a relationship of trust with my students.
I decided to try it out with one class and was so overwhelmed with their responses that I carried out the same activity with the other two as well. They are lower secondary students and I teach and learn with them in the area of Religious Education. Topic areas over the term included Easter, Old Testament characters and adventures, Martyrs, and goodness. They are actually much better than they sound and I’m really good at hooking them in through their own experiences. Before they know it, they are into it.
Anyhow that’s not what this post is about. This one is mainly about my realisation of just how much more there is to them than what they have already revealed over out first 11 weeks together.
Let me give you some examples that blew me away. I’m not looking for correct spelling or grammar so take that hat off – just ‘feel’…
This one from a student who presents confidently and writes wonderfully deep responses:
and this from a very clever young student who takes an active role in class activities is well respected and produces high calibre work:
The next one really floored me and it puts into perspective this student’s actions when we first met and that continue off and on in other classes. I have said it and will always continue to say – bear in mind where these kids have been and what has happened BEFORE they arrive in your class every day.
One student who spent way too much time thinking about the task and seemed to find it difficult to come up with something finally wrote… “I wish my teacher knew that my sister passed away when I was little.” Oh boy, there are so many things we think we know but they keep on surprising us. This particular student is always happy, greets you with a smile, but on reflection, there is another side where sometimes he goes MIA, not physically I mean, but just for a second I notice he is somewhere else.
Of course, they were not all negative or heart wrenching. One of my favourites that makes me smile every time I read it, is this one from a young man, tall, dark, strong and quiet in class but active, and likes to kick a footy around in the yard.
Obviously over three classes there are many more I could share. There are those who speak of having difficulty completing homework, broken families, house fires, illness, self-esteem issues, no wifi at home. Along with these, there are also happy ones, where they share their achievements, “… that I went …[interstate] in the holidays for nationals :)” or “… I will never give up until I succeed …” and this gem, “… I do yoga with my mum … It’s very relaxing and makes me release tension and stress for the upcoming week … I like it very much.” And finally, ” … I love to speak French …”.
Merci! Merci! I say. I am so very grateful that they shared these insights with me. They drive my teaching and learning and bring me right back into my place – we will never know them 100% but I’m going to continue to make every effort to get close to knowing them 100%. Our students are worth it.
Thanks for reading 🙂