My back to school brain can’t let this one go. It seems somewhat trivial, but I’ve been pondering over it for days and feel the need to write about it here.
One of my usual back to school activities has always been to create a “List of Things to do When You Are Done” with students. The idea is quite simple – when you have completed the assigned task, you are to work on something from the list (or something else of your choosing). On a day to day basis, we would celebrate these moments of “initiative” when students would move from one activity to another. I even recorded examples for students’ Learning Skills. Usually the list would look something like this:
1. Read a Book
2. Complete Other Assigned Tasks
3. Look Ahead in Math
4. Doodle, sketch or Draw
5. Quick Write
So, when little Johnny is finished his assignment, I expect him to move on to something from this list – or something else of his choosing. Initiative…
Or is it?
If little Johnny is following my expectation, he is being compliant, isn’t he?
I’ve written about compliant and curious students before – I want them to be curious. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting one way or the other as if you can only be curious or compliant. It all comes back to student engagement, student passions, student interests and building relationships. I want a classroom culture in which students want to explore, inquire, learn, and take risks.
Check out this post by Justin Tarte:
A few years ago Doug Peterson spoke at our annual EdcampSWO. His keynote really struck a chord with me. In fact, I still credit what he said to this day in regards to staff and student learning and PD. I will try my best to paraphrase in one sentence:
Doug was referring to staff PD and workshops in this context. In other words, lets find a better word for “train” when offering PD opportunities.
And there you have the pendulum swing. If students are not being compliant, they are being defiant. Something about these categories makes me uneasy.
I wrote about classroom “control” a few years ago:
I also encourage you to read this article by Donna Miller Fry:
Finally, check out:
Management is good if you want compliance, but if you want engagement, self-directed is better.
Back to the “list”. Many students need this list. At least I was offering choice back then. I will continue to create a list with students. It’s a good reminder to remain focused. The difference is, I won’t celebrate this as initiative.