Monday, December 20, 2010

How do you define learning...?

I will start this post off by saying you will not find any answers here.  At best you might be more confused than when you started.  This year has been the year of change for my German students and myself.  We have been pushing the envelope when it comes to technology integration in a foreign language class.  Overall, I can honestly say things have been going quite well.  Students seem to be actively engaged and interested, and most importantly they have taken great strides when it comes to taking control of their own individual learning.  After reading this one would think everything is going perfectly well, however the realist in me believes when it sounds too good to be true, it's probably not true...

In the past week I have had two of my best students vocalize their dismay with some of this year's activities.  Whether the students are my best or my worst students I will always listen to what they have to say. However, in this instance I would be lying if I said it didn't hurt just a little more coming from two of my best kiddos.  Their claim was simple and straight forward; "We don't think we are learning as much this year in your class as we did last year."  Who would have thought a simple sentence like that could hurt so much, but I felt as if the air had been knocked out of me.  The sirens and bells were going off in my head and I immediately thought, "What am I doing wrong?"

The more and more I thought about these piercing comments the more I focused on the particular students making the claims.  They are two of my B.O.B.S (best of the best students), and obviously if they think they aren't learning as much this year then I must be doing something wrong. Or am I...?

I have been trying to infuse a little of Dan Pink's book "Drive" into my classroom.  Additionally, I have set a goal of transforming my role as the teacher.  I no longer want to be the only person with knowledge...I no longer want to lay out the learning process for my students like a puzzle...I no longer want to be a teacher; I want to be a guiding hand helping to facilitate an environment of exploration and discovery. No longer will the responsibility of learning be on my shoulders; I want my students to share that burden with me.  I want my students to teach themselves, each other and even me.

Though I still remain hurt by the comments of these two great students, I think something much more devastating is being revealed.  Even amongst our best students, we have ingrained the idea of book work and worksheets as the only source of learning.  I am just as guilty as any other educator in creating this misconception, but I now have an added motivation to rectifying it.  I will continue my assault on traditional book work and worksheet learning.  I am not saying it should be entirely eliminated, but I think we might have a problem when our best students associate learning only when they have a book or worksheet in hand.  Or, I am entirely off base, and my two awesome students are 100% correct in their findings...