When you’re a teacher you experience a variety of emotions depending on the day. Yesterday was one of those days where I ate chocolate before stopping for some retail therapy on my drive home. Today, on the other hand, has so far been a day where I absolutely love my job.

This semester I am again teaching grade twelve college level English and I have written previous posts about why I adore teaching this grade and level and today solidified my appreciation for these students. We are reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and one of the tasks we created is that on the last day of each week, three students will present a connection they have made to the novel. The connection can be a song, personal experience, television show, news article, etc., and the each student presents their connection to the class.

Today was the first day for these presentations and we saw three very different connections. All three were very interesting, but the third was a news article that discussed a three year old child being treated for alcoholism as he/she was being given alcohol by his/her parents. My students were obviously appalled by this idea and the verbal conversation that came from this article demonstrated much critical thought.

We then moved the conversation into a virtual realm using todaysmeet and this is where it flourished. My students extended the thinking, brought in current issues facing teens and Tweens today, how they feel about these issues, personal experiences, current news topics, and engaged each other in pushing the thinking. It was phenomenal! The best part, however, was that the students leading the conversation are the quietest ones in the room! They very rarely offer an opinion in a verbal environment but are so willing to share and engage in an online space that it solidifies my belief that we have to offer this type of learning to truly offer a positive learning experience for all students.

Finally, it again gives me faith in this generation of students. So many people criticize them for being “the dumbest generation” but I think we need to take some time to truly listen and give them the opportunity to express themselves and their thoughts. It seems like many people are writing off this generation and I really think it’s because they aren’t giving students the means to express their thinking as the modes of communication are different. It also makes me reflect upon my own practice and I think what I learned today is that we as teachers need to talk less and listen more (or read more in the case of today’s online discussion).


One thought on “The Necessity of Back Channeling

  1. What a great post! I love how you’re creating an environment for all of your students to be successful, both through verbal discussions and online ones. Thanks initially to you, I tried Today’sMeet this year as a backchannel in my Grade 1/2 classroom and with amazing results. I can just imagine what older students can do with this great tool.


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