Discouraged – March 21, 2016

I am discouraged today. Not just because it’s a drizzly, foggy, cool day, but because I thought I was designing instruction in my classroom that allowed for inquiry and curiosity. I received feedback today, however, that contradicted my thoughts. A student informed me that my class is confusing, unclear, and inconsistent. She said my students don’t know what to do, why they are doing it, or what is expected of them.

Why did I immediately defend myself instead of listening? I said that everything is written out on Haiku (our learning management system or LMS) with an explanation, assignment sheet, and rubric.

What have I changed?
I tried to create a freer, more creative environment without the traditional structure and rules of an “old-school” classroom. I tried to incorporate technology and experiment with different types of projects and assignments. I no longer provide lectures or PowerPoints; instead I create learning experiences that I thought were helping students develop critical thinking and higher-level questioning skills. I have pulled back from the traditional vocabulary assignments, weekly article reading, and Thursday discussions that ended up being four or five students participating while the rest sat uninterested and bored.

But you know what I noticed today? Many students are still doing as little as possible. I circulated among groups and sat with one group that said they were done. I looked at their WikiSite, which was supposed to be an analysis of a character.

“Please choose images, videos, charts, posters, infographics, advertisements, music, etc. to communicate the qualities of your assigned character.”

The students were content to copy and paste a summary of the character from Cliff Notes, upload a couple of pictures of the character from a movie version, and link to a clip from the movie. Where is the imagination? Where is the thinking? How can I shift their attitudes to really get them to understand that they are not doing this for me, they are doing this to learn? wiki rubric.jpg

I go to conferences and meetings, follow experts in education and Tweet about pedagogy. How can I not be doing what I thought I was doing? I supposed I needed a check of my current reality, graciously offered as an insight by a brave and courageous student.

I guess I can’t let the defeat of failure take the wind out of my sails. I must carry on and improve my practice. How shall I do this, I wonder? Perhaps emphasizing the unit we are in, the purposes of the activities, relating back to the standards?

Reflecting on the changes I have made did motivate me to do two things today: Podcast on Instructional Shifts and a PearDeck presentation on Pear Deck. I would like to see how the students view these changes I have made. Here is one slide I inserted that I made on Easel.ly.old v new class

Though I am trying to keep a positive attitude, I feel so defeated and demoralized. If I’m not good at teaching, then who am I???

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