Saturday, March 20, 2021

Slice of Life Challenge #21 Day 20: How Have you Grown?

For the month of March, each day I am writing and posting a slice of my life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. 

Slice of Life Challenge #21 Day 20:

How Have You Grown?   

In an effort to connect with my students in a postive way, I continue to begin my senior level classes with community building questions. At the beginning of March I wrote in this post about a different question I asked my high school seniors. 

This past Thursday and Friday I posed this question to my students, "What's one way you have changed since you were a freshman?" 

I expected most of my student responses to be light-hearted. Of course a few of them were oozing with sarcasm, like when *Mavis said, her eyes sparkling with smiles behind her mask, "I hate school even more." *Aaron shared, "I have bigger clothes." Eric's response made me chuckle: "I don't think that seniors are so big and scary anymore. " *Lizzie's made me smile when she said, "I sleep less." She followed this with a huge yawn and showed us her huge energy drink. 

However, for the most part, my students shared meaningful insights with each other. Here are a few that stuck out to me:

  • "I am less immature."
  • "I am more independent and have more confidence."
  • "My point of view on topics has really changed. I don't think the same when I was a freshman."
  • "My goals are really different now. I thought that I might be applying for college, but I am more focused on working so I can earn enough to live on my own."
  • "I don't let people walk all over me anymore."
  • "I have taken more control over the decisions in my life." 
  • "I'm more responsible."
  • "I procrastinate less."
  • "I'm better at time management now."
  • "I worry less about how I think that people see me."
  • "I am more outgoing."
  • "I am less anxious."
  • "My mental health is a lot better."
There was one student in particular whose answer stunned me:
 "I am in better control of my emotions. I used to get angry and just leave the classroom in a huff. I hid in bathrooms. Now I know to breathe and calm myself down. I can get upset about something but know that I can still be okay." 
Wow. As soon as she said this comment, it was quiet. No one said or typed anything on line. For those learning in person, a few heads nodded. 

"Thank you for sharing that brave insight, *Rachel," I said. 

At seventeen, I don't think that I would have been able to share something so astute with a group of my peers. 

As with all of our community building questions, some responses are typed in the chat on the Google Meet. Some students share their thoughts verbally on the Google Meet. My masked, in-person learners usually shout out their responses. 

Somehow we are creating classroom community, even though this year has felt so fragmented. To me, this conversation is another reminder that many of my students are still growing and thriving, despite all of the challenges they have faced in the last year.

*a pseudonym

5 comments:

  1. I love a good question and this is one of them! Thank you for sharing!

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  2. Your efforts to build community are paying off. I don’t recall ever having a teacher suggest I reflect on my growth as a learner or in any other way. It just didn’t happen.

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  3. I love that you pose questions that allow them to be experts. It also says a lot about the learning community you've created that students are able to share this level of candor with each other.

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  4. That is a great question- I appreciate them considering the question and I bet they continued thinking about it even later in the evening when they were alone.

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  5. This is such a great question! I tend to ask more silly icebreaker type questions, but I think my students would like to engage more thoughtfully with questions like these.

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Slice of Life Challenge #21 Day 31: Easter Preparations

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