It's almost the first of the New Year and I feel guilty already. Maybe you noticed the date of my last blog post. Maybe not. Let's suffice to say it's been a while. Even though I haven't been the most consistent writer, I've been busy in the classroom. Experimenting with new ideas and listening. To my students, to my colleagues, and to myself. If there's one thing I've learned so far this year, it's the importance of being an active listener. If I want my students to communicate with me, my coworkers to share ideas with me, and my internal voice to guide me, I have to listen.
One area I'm really trying to improve my listening skills is with my students. They smell insincerity a mile away. When I ask for feedback from them, I need to listen intently to what they say, consider what they say, and even implement what they say. That gives them validity and gives them a stake in what happens in my room. As I pilot a new class I hope to become a reality for students, I seek feedback from kids who have taken the class or who are currently taking it. Having a segmented school year makes this process easier than in a traditional classroom. So when I ask for student input, I want my students to know I'm listening and will seriously consider their opinions.
That's not the only change I'm working on this school year. Each year principals ask for professional goals. One of my objectives this year was to collaborate with a couple of teachers in my building and offer an integrated curriculum/unit that students could engage in, direct their learning and learn practical skills that would challenge them to learn in a new way. With an idea brewing, I approached our FACS teacher and our math teacher. Both were receptive and enthusiastic to the idea.Now I'm looking forward to actually working with the other teachers to develop this project.
Finally, I want to learn to listen to myself, my gut. Take the time to consider what I'm hearing instead of acting impulsively. By slowing down and considering things and their value, I know I will become a stronger teacher. And for my students and colleagues, my slowing down could make all the difference.