Not long ago, I asked a few students the question, “What do you like about school?” A chair, a camera and a conversation. I was fully prepared for the predictable answers of “Recess!” or “My teachers!” or “Lunch!” or “P.E!” Depending on the learner, I might have heard, “Reading!” or “Math” or “Computers!” Interestingly enough, I didn’t get any of those responses.
Asking questions and interviewing our students every now and then can be some of the best feedback we receive all year.
- Students offer perspective. We often think we are doing a stellar job teaching content. We’ve danced it, we’ve sung it, we have even done magic tricks with it. But are we engaging our students or just entertaining them? Are we giving them the opportunity to own their learning? Or are we just putting on the best show in town?
- Students give ideas. I think students have the most amazing ideas. And one idea can lead to another and then to another and then everybody can find a gold nugget. Maybe for us, it is that lesson or project that just needed to be discovered. For them, it might be that creative endeavor they need to boost learning to the next level.
- Students encourage us. I love seeing students both in and out of the building. A “Hi, Mrs. Maynor!” with a big smile on their face is better than my favorite morning coffee or those dark chocolate almonds I keep eating. I love it even more when they ask, “When are we going to produce the next weather report?” Or “You have to come see my project!”
- Students challenge us. I think students have the unique position of challenging us to be better than we were yesterday. They are plugged in every day and know more than we realize. In our connected world, teaching isn’t what is was yesterday, so we need to accept the challenge and forge new pathways, creating new instructional models to best meet the needs of our students.