This was my first week teaching a class in almost five years. It was fun to be back in the classroom. This is the first time I’ve ever taught this particular age group. Keeping seventeen seventh graders and fourteen eighth graders on task can be a challenge. Add to that fact is that the curriculum I’m teaching them is one of my own creation. I can draw on the experience of others in creating the course of study and I did, but there is no one who really has embarked on what I’m charged with.
My initial emphasis was on self-esteem building. I think many of today’s youth are like young people have been since time began. They’re unsure of themselves. Add to this they are really the first generation to grow up online. They have never known a time when the internet didn’t exist. In addition to the that, nearly 70% of the class own cell phones and of that number nearly all have sent text and picture messages. I handed out mirrors on my first day of class. I told them their homework each day was to look in the mirror and tell themselves that they loved what they saw. In addition to that each of the students is asked to write a few sentences about what they’ve done that day. Moodle is the software that supports this course. Each student has his/her own blog and they love to write. Some of the students have really written quite a bit this first week. It’s the most popular aspect of the course thus far.
I’m really grateful to be back in the classroom and to be working with such an exciting bunch of students. They are challenging me to learn more and to re-think how I teach. Already I’ve had to adjust my style. Today I discovered how attuned they are to video. When I’m talking, even when I try to engage them in higher level thinking, they tend to fidget and move about. Today, I showed two short videos. One segment was about seven minutes long, the other about five minutes. In each case the students quieted down and were completely engaged. Tonight I spent time finding some appropriate videos and this weekend I’m adjusting my approach. It’s fun watching people learn. I’ve loved teaching ever since I was a little boy. I used to teach my brother lessons and then make up tests on my father’s mechanical typewriter. Moodle is a long way from a mechanical typewriter but some of the same principles apply.