Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Dawn Mackey Post 2

BBI Teacher's picture
This year the school district featured a new standardized test--The Terra Nova. Since it was new to the district, a baseline was needed, so they gave the test in the fall. Scores were promised to be returned quickly. And for once, scores actually returned quickly. I was appalled at how poorly my class did as a whole, especially in comparison to the other eighth grade classes. I knew my class was less motivated than the other classes to learn, but I didn't believe that they didn't have the skills to be successful if they only tried. I had decided that since they weren't trying, I was going to stop trying too. I am a teacher that believes in honesty with my classes and told them how poorly they did, how I felt that they had been failed by their teachers(past and present), parents, and selves. I assumed my class would respond with their usual "I don't care" attitude and had prepared some basic seat work to allow myself some time to regroup and figure out what to do. My students began to hold discussions among themselves about how to improve their own learning as a class. What changes they wanted and were willing to make. And then they did something they never do---they took out their reading book(The Giver) and actually began reading out loud without any teacher prompting. They had made it clear on occassions past that they found the book boring and uninteresting, but they were reading and discussing as if they were talking about videos. Though I am a talker by nature, I simply sat back and allowed the students to continue on by themselves. They had actually caught a lot of the things I was trying to get across in previous lessons. Their discussion was rich and full of life connections and they actually listened to each other(a problem we had been having). I learned a lot about my class and how they learned. I thought I needed to figure out how to "fix" my class by myself, when in reality my class held the solution. I allowed much more free conversation about the topics at hand and found that my students usually could arrive where I wanted them if I simply put them on the path.