I read this tweet this morning and it has me thinking. One of the most important aspects of my job is knowing my students as individuals and I spend a lot of time interacting with them to try and figure out what makes each one tick. I think many teachers feel that they don’t have the time to do this step, but I would argue that it is one of the most crucial aspects of my practice as it fosters a relationship with the student. It helps the student to trust that I have their best interests at heart and am going to be there to support them on their individual learning journey.
With this in mind, I spend a lot of time reading about topics that I know my students find interesting that aren’t necessarily things I would choose to learn about personally. I want my students to be curious individuals and by learning about their passions, I feel that helps maintain their inquisitiveness as well as allow them to see me in the role of the learner. I want them to feel that they can teach me and by putting myself in the role of the learner and they as teacher, I am helping to foster their confidence and independence.
The other reason that I feel it’s important for me to be learning about what my students are interested in is that I want to be able to push their thinking further. For example, one of my students was commenting on my handwriting on the whiteboard. She noticed that it was “neater” than usual (there is a reason why I type a lot…) but it lead to a conversation about handwriting analysis and introverts versus extroverts. I don’t really know much about hand writing analysis, but she found it fascinating that how we write can reveal aspects of our personality. From our conversation, she set off on a tangent on the web to learn more. If I hadn’t listened to her or engaged her in the conversation about her observations then she wouldn’t have been motivated to learn more.
From this small reflection, it has me excited about what happens when you put another teacher into the mix. Starting in second semester, Andrew Bieronski and I will be team teaching our grade ten English classes. We will be using our digital tools to create a community, but we will also be spending time in each other’s classes so we can have face to face interactions and get to know the students. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens when our students have access to both of us and hearing their reflections about how learning changes when you have access to two teachers for one class.
I’m so excited for this next advancement in our pedagogy and what our students will leave both the physical and digital spaces wanting to know more about.