Friday, March 30, 2018

"What If"

As I finish up a book that has helped me see things more clearly one of the very last parts really resonated with me. Lately I have been thinking a lot about those kids who seem to have behaviors that get in the way of learning, but "What If" (thank you Katie Martin) we looked at them differently? Katie talks in her book about Captain Underpants, which is a movie I watched for the first time this year during a spontaneous lunch date with my class (I should not admit this but I giggled more than the students).  The boys in this movie are always in trouble for the antics they pull, but if you really look at who they are you see they are incredibly genius with their ideas.

Just recently I read the book Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt and had that same realization that "What If" we really knew what the underlying issues were. "What If" we took time to look past the poor behavior and saw the real child. In this book the main character has dyslexia and it takes until 5th grade for someone to realize it. Her poor behavior overshadowed her inability to read. Underneath her acting out and pushing people away she was an incredible artist and extremely intelligent. 

This past year I have embraced risk taking, but at times worry about taking the wrong leaps. What if I take some  leaps that harm more than help my students? As I reflect on Learners Centered Innovation, Captain Underpants and Fish in a Tree they all lead me to feel confident my risks are what is best for kids. By providing my students with more choice and empower them to own their learning I am preparing them for more than just school. I had one of those amazing teacher moments this week as we were talking in class one of my students asked me what would happen if one of them made poor choices. I was a little confused at the question so took a second and realized although we had gone over rules and consequences at the beginning of the year we haven't had any issues this year that require discipline in my class. At that moment I knew the risks were completly worth it. I feel as though my class has taken ownership in our room as a community and have had the opportunities to own their learning. This has resulted in less time or desire for poor behaviors. I am not saying my students behave perfectly, but I am experiencing a much different year than I have in the past. I know who my students really are better than I ever have, which allows me to truly differentiate.

Some of the risks this year: 

*Flipping math class using the Grid Method, which focuses on student mastery at the students pace
*Embracing standards based grading even though our grade is the only one doing it 
*Introducing Genius Hour
*Planning lessons around students interests and passions
*Taking risks, which include failing and succeeding in front of my students. 
*Eliminating homework
*More flexible seating
*Blogging and Tweeting (putting myself out there)
*Empowering students!

None of it was easy, but each one was worth it!

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