On Tuesday of this week I read Will Richardson’s blog post, “We Feel Lost” which included a letter from a student about how he feels about today’s education system and it made me wonder about my students and how they feel. Two periods a day they are in my class working in a more personalized environment, but the other two periods they are in a more traditional classroom. (On a random note, the pure fact that I have tables rather than individual desks has apparently earned me the honour? of my classroom being referred to as a “party room” rather than a classroom. I’m still grappling with whether I should be flattered or offended… Sigh.)
The responses were interesting and eye opening for me. As can be expected with a group of 25 students, the responses were quite varied. Some got frustrated with the competitive aspect of the traditional classroom as in my room we focus on individual growth and feedback rather than grades, some also took the positive route and talked about how we are in a transition period in education and that we don’t quite have it figured out yet, but what many students chose to focus on was the bond between a student and the teacher.
I’ve always thought it was important to have a connection with every single student as my favourite teachers were ones that chose to know me as more than just the student in their class. I don’t remember the lessons that those teachers taught in class, but I remember the teachers that listened to me when I was having issues, that listened to me when I was in a good place in my life, the coaches and band conductors, and the mentors who provided leadership opportunities because they knew my dream was to be a teacher. So to pay homage to those amazing influences in my life, I’ve tried to do that with my own students.
The conversations that I had with my students this week after reading this blog post confirmed that it’s the human connection students want from their teachers. They don’t want their heads crammed full of knowledge. They want to be listened to, inspired by, inquisitiveness fostered, but at the heart of it, feel that they matter. It was an unexpected, but beautiful reminder of the power and influence that we have every single day.