Learning who your students are is so important, but it does take a while. From the start, I realized that this new crew of mine is totally different from my last students. Last year, I was amazed at how quickly my students caught on, and how quickly they moved into deeper elements of the standards. They were open to talking about serious subjects like the Holocaust and Anne Frank. At times, I felt like I was teaching high school or college students– they were capable of that level of work. On the other hand, this year has been different. How? Why? Honestly, I’ve been trying to figure that out for weeks. Well, today, I think I’ve figured it out. I’m actually teaching twelve year olds.
What I mean to say is, they are on par with the emotional and intellectual intelligences of the average twelve year old child. Is that bad? Is that good? In some ways both– yes and no.
Today, I realized after a creative writing assignment that my current students ooze creativity and expression. They had so much fun with the writing assignment, and used a variety of adjectives and active verbs throughout their writing. When I asked for volunteers to share they jumped up ready to share their writing. My students laughed, cried–literally from laughter, and just had a great time. I did not see that kind of creativity from my group last year.
So–what does this mean for me. Well, it means that I must continue creating fun, engaging lessons that will hit at their instructional level, while still challenging them. I can use their creativity to work for them, and not against them. We may do a bit more creative writing, poetry, etc. along with the traditional essays. I am also going to incorporate more vocabulary games to review. I’m thinking of doing this on Fridays after they type their essay in the computer lab. These kids must be actively engaged to learn.
It’s just a different crew. I must rise to the occasion!