Wednesday, April 19, 2006

opening the mind's of students

Recently, I have loved the blogs of my students in my American Lit. class-extremely intriguing and perceptive and they have been commenting on one another's. We are currently reading the Great Gatsby, and I have posted some prompts on certain ideals that we will encouner later. Needless to say, their reponses are very subjective,honest and they make some good points.
The reason I am writing this is that I never thought a blog repsonse from a student could get under my skin so much. I felt cheated, I felt inferior, I felt betrayed in a sense. And not that it wasn't valid or I didn't respect the kid's opinion-as the saying goes, to each his own, right?
To make a long story longer, the essence of his thoughts were that in order to be successful you had to make a lot of money and if you didn't, then you weren't a success-and that in terms of wealth or being wealthy you had to have the mentality that you were better than others, and sort of a snob. Money being necessary, it is the only thing that makes you who you are.
So, I went to class and I wanted to share different perceptions about the topic because they did such a great job and to play devil's advocate. So I went through a couple of kids' ideas and we talked, then I asked the one student if I could ask him a question. I asked," So let me hear your response before I can claim my own defense here: am I-a TEACHER-who doesn't make an incredible amount of money less successful?" He responded, "Yes." I asked, "So because I don't make over 100 grand a year, I am not a success?" "Yes," he said. At this point, I was sort of blown away-a few kids rebutted against that,and I think most were shocked and didn't know what to say or how to rebut. Then I felt like I needed to prove something-and now that I'm thinking of it I question myself-was it necessary for me to prove myself? Did I have to jusitfy my defense? How could a blog piss me off so much? And I'm calm now-but the main thing I said to these kids was: "I want you to remember one thing-there will always be greater and lesser persons than you." Another kid asked if I was happy and I emphatically replied, yes-and he said then you are successful. It just amazed me that opening a can of worms such as this, could make me feel so great and yet so belittled and then I thought about my own accomplishments and I know I can wlak with my head high, feeling satified because of what I have done in my short life. And I hope kids think about this discussion inthe future when the real world strikes and it's claws are reaching out. It also made me think of some kid's attitudes today. It looks as though I took this personally, and at some level, I did, but at the same time, I was just happy that I got my student's to think and make these universal themes that encompass this great novel so relevant to them! These should be the kinds of discussions we are having, and I think many of us are.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Progress of Goals

I would say that I have grown and accomplished a lot this semester-with regards to my goals, I will honestly say that some have slipped and not deliberately. As far as keeping up with assignments, I have done them, but in the latter relam of time. I have not been consistent with my blogs, but truly, I have not had much to elaborate on. I haven't wanted to sound redundant. I have truly embraced, in my eyes, a more constructivist approach in specific classes, and I have continued blogging with my American Lit. class. I have incorporated other teacher's ideas or methods (i.e.-the fishbowl) but I changed it a bit to adapt to the needs to my students by doing more socratic methods. I feel as though I am getting my kids to think more critically and beyond the mere surface. In my last units, with fresh and A.L. I will be doing inquiry based unit where the unit is derived off of one essential question and they will go through a process where they will evaluate, question,and create a socially significant group project on a topic they research. It gives the students more power in their learning and I get to facilitate more. I am looking forward to it and the kids seem to be excited, or they're just faking it. I really want these units to be relevant and exciting to the kids' lives. I will say that my goals were reachable, but not all attainable. But I do feel that the ways in which I ahve approached my teaching has been in large part due to this cohort, and for that I am thankful, even if I don't consistently blog.