I am a goal driven, hyperactive, excitable and sometimes grumpy individual. I love to learn now, I'll spend an entire night on Wikipedia, opening tabs going from one article to another. Where did this enthusiasm for learning come from? I never loved school (although I loved some of my teachers - a huge shout out to Mr. Carrillo and Mrs. Barnes), I picked up way more by walking through the forest with my Oma (grandma) than I did in the classroom.
I struggled in school, there is no news in that. I failed almost all my classes in grade 9 and while at the time I blamed everyone else but myself, it was my fault. I was a lazy, uninspired and disengaged (did I mention lazy) kid. What changed? Well...the glib answer is not much. There had to be a point somewhere along the way when I started to love to learn.
I can imagine my junior high teachers would be horrified to find out that I am now a colleague. Maybe thats the point the point of this post... sometimes we give up too early on kids. We write them off as dumb or lazy when they are just late bloomers.
I work with amazing colleagues but some of them have never failed a course in their lives or even gotten a B. Many were top of their class and valedictorians of their graduating classes. They can inspire and lead their classes like generals but often struggle to understand why a student has such a difficulty picking up a simple topic or misbehaves. I think I get it more than others because I was that kid. I was the one who never handed his homework, sat at the back of the room, goofed off, etc...
From that experience I made a list of ways to help kids like me be more successful and learn to love to learn:
- Make multiple connections: The more people I connected to, the better I did. Older students, tutors, peers, teachers, parents, etc...
- Talk to me about stuff I love and connect it to what you teach
- Use technology to engage me: Make my learning non-linear...allow me to explore links and connections
- Be passionate - You'll carry me away with a story and make me cry to Charlotte's Web if you do a good Wilbur!
- Just acknowledge my existence - If you do one thing, Say hi to kids like me in the hallways. That one piece made all the difference in the word.
So how do I learn now?
- Like I said, I use Wikipedia for non linear links (books are too binding)
- I use Twitter (@jbsd43) to connect to people all over the globe: Students, teachers, researchers and parents
- I am driven by other exciting educators who passionately make their case for learning
- I say say hi to kids and try to make their day as good as they made mine.(not really about learning but creating the relationship so learning is easier.)
I know these things have been said a thousand times before and its nothing new but until its contextualized, i'll never learn it :)