Monday, May 23, 2016

Teaching Tip #173

Teacherscribe's Teaching Tip #173

I came across this interesting read on Twitter last week: 8 Pathways to Every Student’s Success.

  1. Curiosity.  Nothing like starting out with the one that is most daunting.  At least for me.

This is a double sided blade (sorry. I’ve been reading too much Game of Thrones).  On one side, I find that most of my students - whether they be in my 9th grade remedial class or my College Comp 2 class - are curios.  The trick - and this would be the other side - is keeping them there.

So many students tire of curiosity and just want routine.

I recall one of the saddest teaching days I ever had at Lincoln.  This was way back in the days when I had Journalism (around 2002 or so).  

I gave my class of 24 students a choice: they could either begin researching and writing a feature story for the school paper on any topic they wanted.  OR they could begin folding, labelling, and sealing envelopes, for we were sending out yearbook coupons to every parent.

I figured that I’d get a nice split.  I thought for sure that some students would be curious enough to want to write about something.  I mean they could write about anything.  It didn’t matter if it was about the tattoos the student wanted to get, a profile of the best cars in the class, a feature on why so many teachers at Lincoln are former students, or a column updating the fall sports.

I was so wrong.  Twenty three students gladly chose to fold, label, and seal envelopes.  And they were excellent at it.  We folded 700 envelopes in two days.  They were a machine.

But something happened as they worked so quietly and efficiently that just broke my damn heart.  It was an assembly line.  What was I teaching them!  I was horrified.  I vowed never to do that again.  And, for the most part, I haven’t.

I had to find other ways to tap into their curiosity and to avoid the routine.

And the one student who chose to write an original feature story?  Brittany Haviland (who now works for the Today Show).  She wrote a feature story profiling the strengths of each of her siblings and how they all impacted her.

Find a way to tap into the innate curiosity of your students.  I’d love to hear about how you do it.

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