On Wednesday of last week I had a series of epiphanies during a collobarative visit with friend, mentor, and hero Shelley Durbin. If you don’t know this woman, get on her level, ASAP.
During Symphonic Band (an awesome class of 84 ninth graders) Shelley was talking about the idea of committing deeply to engagement and paying attention. A single student raised his hand confidently and answered her prompt with 100% certainty. She questioned the class and asked “how many of you knew the answer to that question?”
They grumbled. Turns out most of them knew the answer to the question but were hesitant to raise their hands to answer. It was at this time that I asked Shelley if I could unpack some baggage that I had as a student and that many of my students may also have.
I asked the question “how many of you have somebody in another class who rolls their eyes or makes a comment under their breath when someone else in the class answers a question?” The response was resounding. They ALL knew that someone.
You know I was the kind of student who was excited and ready to answer questions when teachers asked them but quickly learned through middle school and high school that this was not “cool” behavior. To have knowledge was not good currency.
So I asked my freshmen “what if this got to be the kind of class where we all got to be that kid who knew the answer to the question. What if we supported one another so fully that we didn’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed to have knowledge and information when asked to share that knowledge or information?”
It was a powerful moment for me and hopefully for my students to understand that when they walk through the doors of my classroom each day they have baggage both conscious and subconscious that needs to be unpacked in order for them to be their best learners.
And my hope is that seeds were planted on Wednesday to open the
doors to fearless learning and limitless exploration without judgment or boundary.