If you are an arts educator whose students have presented work to the public, you have probably heard something like this. On the one hand, it is a lovely sentiment. Someone has consumed the play, art show, concert, dance recital, etc. that your students made, and they have enjoyed it. And the compliment seems meant to extend to you: the students did well, and therefore, so did you.
We try. We try all of our days to put our fingers on learning. We try to find and keep what works. We try to avoid and lose what doesn’t. And, through it all, we keep chasing the best ways to foster learning in our classrooms. We give our kids opportunities to show, to demonstrate that they are growing, that they are learning.
Whether we think it or say it, when we warn kids with the “real world,” it is an affront to their existence, to their humanity, to their reality. The kids, the humans above attend Anywhere High School in Everywhere, World. And whether it was yesterday, today, or tomorrow their world feels real enough. Ask them. They’ll tell you.
A semester in the making, this changed everything about M’s project. She had originally wanted a wider audience with a published video to YouTube, but after she received the reply, she immediately asked to present her research to the class so we could all share in her passion, ask questions, and respond and react in real time.
here will always be limitations within the rigid public school system. However, especially as we make advances in technology that provides more opportunities for personalized learning and agency, there will always be ways to find flexibility to help learners take more ownership over their lives as learners.
Finding my purpose in education was born out of an immense frustration with education itself. After night after night of cramming lesson plans that paired perfectly with standards (and “differentiating” with the latest tech tool), grading 80+ assignments, and becoming increasingly frustrated with students forgetting everything I told them, I began to wonder why I even bothered. I drank more, I was increasingly negative and irate, and I lost much of the drive I entered the profession with.
I believe in hard work. Had to. We didn’t go to church on Sunday. We worked on Sunday. Work was our worship. When school was out, work was in. Every weekend, every break, every summer, there was work to be done. So, we worked. And while I didn’t always appreciate the lessons from work when I was younger, I proudly acknowledge the impact they had on shaping the person I am today. Hard work matters.
Easily the most daunting challenge I face is the apathetic teenager, one who is disheartened, disengaged, or likely distracted by something much more appealing: Clash of Clans, Fortnite, Snapchat, the latest memes — what have you. How can I possibly design a curriculum that conquers instant gratification?