Just before I went to our faculty meeting yesterday, I saw this graphic in my Twitter feed:
I went off to our meeting to find we were about to engage in a grade level protocol based on an Edutopia post titled “The Power of Being Seen”. As a team, we were given a page with three photos of our kids down the left side. The rest of the page was blank. We were to start writing and write everything you knew about that child.
Do you know their face?
Do you know their name?
Do you know something personal about them?
Do you know their family story?
Do you know their academic standing?
It was really interesting to see who we had lots to write about and who the 8-10 teachers had very little to write about. It also made me think about the data we collect about students. So often we talk about how learning is about connecting with other people and that kids will learn from people they trust and like. I was reminded of this TED Talk by Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs A Champion:
I was reminded that developing relationships with our students are key to moving them forward in their learning. And I sat asking myself, “Who am I championing?” But, so what? So what do we do with the data we have now gathered? Now what? Where to from here?
These questions will be up to each grade level to respond to but I know for me, it was a call to action to get to know the kids I teach a lot better than I do now. I teach all Grade 1 – 5 students or about 45 kids per grade level so that is a lot of information to know. But aren’t they worth it? As grade level teams respond to this data, my hope is that we are supported to move forward in our understanding and connection with students. We are really lucky to have a very permissive and open culture in which “grassroots” uprisings of ideas are encouraged, if not expected. What can we do to truly connect with our kids?
What would your next steps be?
My TA and I are doing a couple of things. Firstly, we have created similar photo pages and I have put these in my iPad to make notes on during or straight after class. We spend a very short time of each design lesson talking to the whole group and the rest of the time working with individuals or small groups. Often there is time to talk about things other than the project we are working on. We know that we don’t get to talk to everyone and that we also tend to gravitate toward those kids who are perhaps louder or more assertive. We want to collect some data to see who we are missing.
As I was thinking over this protocol, I was reminded of a similar protocol suggested by the Responsive Classroom. This one is a little more simple but equally powerful. In summary, you need a piece of paper folded into three columns. In the first column, write the names of your students – any order. (That in itself may lead to some understandings about your relationships in the classroom.) In the second column write one thing that you think is cool about that child, the child is passionate about, or something they really care about. And in the third column, make a star if you are sure that the child knows that you know this about them.
What would you do next after one of these protocols?