I spent my morning frustrated. Some students have not been keeping up with their blogs. And the majority of the ones that wrote their required posts had only presented a surface-level understanding of the concepts, giving one or two sentences where a few paragraphs would have been needed to show evidence of understanding. I had even given students time in class to complete the posts, which only served to deepen my frustration.
I spent my morning trying to figure out where I went wrong. Perhaps I hadn't given explicit enough directions. Maybe there was some confusion in what was supposed to go on the blogs in my sub plans, since they did their posts on days when I wasn't in class. Maybe my prompts just really sucked and were boring and uninteresting to them, even though I tried to jazz them up by having them write a love letter from E. coli to their human host or write a Dear Abby letter on behalf of a photon named Phil. I agonized over the fact that I should have let them write more from themselves than from any prompt I give them, that maybe the lack of effort was really from a lack of relevance.
But all of those were possible explanations. That didn't excuse what hadn't happened on their blogs.
I spent my afternoon upset and disappointed. I was upset and disappointed in myself, mostly for not providing more engaging opportunities for them to show me what they knew. I chastised my students, though, giving them my usual rant about getting work done, that this was evidence I needed to see if they understood the I can statements, telling them that they would get all of their posts done because it was their final exam they should be working on all semester, blah blah blah. But I ended my usual rant with something a little different.
I told them that I know they're better than this. Instead of blank stares a few heads popped up, a few eyes rolled towards me quizzically.
They're better than this. They have been trained that school is a series of tasks to slog through rather than a place to learn; they can't see what they can really do when they're learning, when they take a risk, when they do something other than the usual mundane tasks of school such as completing a worksheet or copying down definitions.
My students are better than what they showed me on their blogs. But I don't think they realize it yet.
Did they ever realize it? And, if so, where did that realization go?
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