Thursday, November 3, 2011
Classroom Visits - Making connections in their space!
It has been several weeks now that I have been practising "No Office Day" on Tuesday mornings in my school. I am amazed how energizing this time has been. This past week I observed students in a Photography class as they were getting ready to do some silk-screening. I also was able to connect with a couple of students who have not been regularly attending the class and found out a little more about why they were missing. Instead of me as the administrator asking them to come down to the office and then both of us posturing as to why they aren't coming to class, and ironically me dragging them out of class to miss more class to find out why they are missing class? Huh? Seems a little silly to me! I was able to listen to them and it seemed a lot less formal than if each of us was sitting on either side of my big desk!
I was also able to watch a presentation by a group of students in a Biology 20 class and have been able to have at least 2 follow-up conversations with students, in the hallways, later in the week about their presentation!
I was also in a Physics 30 class where the students were trying to design a roller coaster where the loop would have a diameter of 1 kilometre, and then together we calculated the speed of the cars at the top of the loop. It was a mind boggling 252 km/hr! Then it was really cool for the students to think about this in their own context and realize the danger involved in that speed! I took the opportunity to speak to a couple of students later in the period about their attendance and again it was a very flat hierarchy for us to talk when I was in "their" learning space.
I finished my morning by visiting an English 10 class which is a sheltered class for 21 of our new Canadian students. I had read a lot about the benefits, especially for EAL students to be scheduled in a sheltered class, but to be able to observe first-hand and see the comfort those students feel and the laughter and the sense of community, was powerful. The students were looking at images and then responding with their thoughts and feelings. The amazing thing was, even though some of them were difficult to understand through their fractured english, their ideas and wonders were inspiring! I found myself being moved emotionally as I heard some of them talk about their stories and some of the places that they had lived.
As I returned to "my space", my office, I felt grateful for the students sharing their spaces with me. I was able to connect with 7 students who I needed to see about attendance and a few other matters, but I made the connection with them and had a conversation with them rather than talking to them! I also was able to see these students in an authentic learning space and got to participate in the learning with them!
I tweeted out some quick comments on the school twitter page about my experiences that morning and it felt good; really good!
This is not rocket science, but it turns out it is essential for me as the Lead Learner in our high school! I just want to do it more and more!