Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day 169: Diverse Needs

I will be publishing the full results of my student feedback survey at the end of the year.  In the event that someone adds profanity to their answer, I'll edit it out, but I think the transparency is important.

So far, I'm seeing some fascinating comments that solidly demonstrate the difference in students needs and preference from kid to kid.

My favorite response so far:
What could we do differently in class (or outside) to ensure a better learning environment?
More projects
Less projects
Several comments are direct complaints about other students in the class.

When asked what advice they would give to their friends taking the class next year, there is a unanimous cry of "just do your work, bro!" This makes me happy as I was half expecting the advice for future students to be "drop the course."

While my students were working on late assignments and final exam review, a student from another class came in to talk to me about her relationship.

When I walked her back to class, a group of students (mostly female) asked me for my thoughts about why boys and girls view relationships so differently in high school.  So many of these conversations end with students saying something foolish like "I wish I were in your class."

When kids are willing to talk to me and ask my opinions about sensitive and personal topics, it reminds me that I'm on the right track.  I want my room to be a safe space for them and I seem to at least have a measure of success there.

It's so easy to get wrapped up in the kids who hate us, the parents who disagree with how we teach, the coworkers who think we're doing it wrong, that sometimes the things we do right get lost.

When I first started this blog, I wrote about the applications of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in terms of student productivity.  At that time, I was concerned about the physical safety and comfort of my students because the temperature in my room was in the high 80's and low 90's for several days in a row.

This year, my temperature issues haven't been nearly as extreme, so that level of the hierarchy was satisfied.  I also think that in general, over the last two or three years, my focus has been much more on the emotional safety of my students.  I am working my way up the pyramid, and perhaps in a few years, I'll be able to focus more solidly the problem solving and critical thinking.

Those skills are vital to our mission as educators, but trying to build them on a non-existent foundation is a job for a much more talented teacher than myself.

The more I think about it, the more I see the emphasis of school being the implication that with hard work and vigilance ("grit" if you will) that all of the other needs will be taken care of.

I'm no architect, but I'm pretty sure that's not how your build a pyramid.
"Seems legit to me!"

If you have not done so, please take a few minutes to fill out this survey. I would greatly appreciate it.

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