As I explore the small moves that I have made, and plan to make, to become a more connected educator in a more connected classroom, I will draw upon three poignant ideas that came out to me through this week’s readings: the idea of “purposeful transparency” and the #DONOW project.
The idea of “purposeful transparency” struck me immediately because it finally put an obstacle that I have been struggling with in my classroom into words. One of the most difficult practices that I have struggled to change within my classroom has been how writing is published and shared. Historically, these students have been used to writing for a single audience: the teacher. However, in an effort to make writing more meaningful, I have been asking students to post their writings in various places (discussion boards, class website, project taped to classroom walls) so that we may all read and learn from them. My difficulty in developing this transparency comes during the sharing out of the work. We often times do a gallery walk and take notes on the similarities, differences, and noteworthy elements of each others’ work, but the practice still leaves me feeling incomplete in the end.
As I read about purposeful transparency, I realized that the transparency among students was missing an essential component- purpose! Therefore, one of my small moves that I can start immediately is to begin asking a question that students must answer using their observations of other students’ work. By needing to cite other students’ ideas in order to answer an essential question of the unit, transparency is given a purpose, and will hopefully be all the more meaningful.
The #DONOW project is something that I also would like to begin experimenting with this school year. The idea resonates with me so strongly because I already post a “DO NOW” in our welcoming message at the start of every class. The DO NOW is meant to get students connected with one another, but more often than not I end up struggling to elicit any engagement at all. I see the use of this project as a simple solution to the lack of connection I struggle to establish at the beginning of class.
I have been quite transparent in this post about the challenges that I grapple with in my own practice, which has been a bit uncomfortable for me! Therefore, I would like to close with a brief description of the small moves towards connected learning that has proved successful for me.
As an ESL teacher, I am a bit obsessed with my mission to bring ESL families into the school community. I am a firm believer that the most successful students are the ones who know that their school and home community are a united front, and I do not think that language and cultural barriers are any excuse to keep those two forces apart. Therefore, I have opened up our learning community for guest speakers, parent workshops, ESL Family Nights, ESL Spring Picnics, and ESL Poetry Night. During the latter three events, students have showcased class projects, dances, poetry, and food for attendees, and with persistent communication, I truly feel that I have been successful in connecting the world of these families to the world of the school and classroom community.