Sunday, August 30, 2015

Do you have any Sleepers in your classroom?

"To raise achievement, schools may need to work as hard on the social-emotional aspect of learning as they do on the academic aspect." -Deborah D. Brennan

After only the first week of school, chances are most teachers are already getting a feel for their students.  In any given class, there are teacher pleasers, those that test our patience, probably some students that know the material you are presenting already, and some that may never truly understand it.  The challenge of teaching a room full of students with different interests, backgrounds, and motivations is part of what make teaching one of the most difficult professions in the world.
The start of the school year is also when educators everywhere annually proclaim their job is about “building relationships”.  It is true!  A teacher that doesn’t love students and do what they can to get to know them is in the business for the wrong reasons.  However, getting to know them isn’t enough.  From a teaching standpoint, the whole purpose of building relationships is so that we can figure out what makes a kid “tick”.  How can we teach them better?  How might we design our classrooms and our lessons to make them more engaging and fulfilling for our students?  Building a relationship with a student should be the very first formative assessment of the year.  The question remains, just like with any other formative assessment, what will you do with the information about the student once you have it?  With so many kids and so many styles, it is difficult to know them all.  It takes time, experience, and expertise.  It also takes a teacher that is willing to change the way they do things when needed. 
Michael Wesch, a professor at Kansas State University, created a great video about a student he referred to as “The Sleeper”.  This student made him question the way he taught his class, and it also taught him a lesson in building relationships with student. 

Watch and see….the student didn’t change until the teacher’s classroom changed! Nobody said teaching would be easy….but it is worth it!  Get to know your kids and then use it to make their learning experience dynamic!!