It is that time of year when I spend a lot of time in my classroom without anything to do. I have successfully moved from the front to the back; the students are in charge. I am watching, commenting on work, editing when asked, but basically I am just there as a resource. It is not about me; it is about them. I love it, and it can leave me with time on my hands. They know what to do and are doing it! It is just what I planned for, starting in September, and it always amazes me when it happens so completely in the last few months of school.
Yesterday, my 7th graders were working on their Black Death project. They were researching, using mostly primary sources, to understand the impact that the plague had on the people of Europe. It is an introductory study for a “Change in Europe” unit that we do at the end of the year. They had been previously studying trade networks and the interactions that occurred along them: Silk Road and Indian Ocean networks. They are writing two diary entries: one from before the plague arrives and one after. They are also creating an image for a woodblock, based on images like the Dance of Death.
They had a 90 minute period to work. I reviewed the tasks and took any questions. Then I reminded them that when they felt the need to move around, get a drink of water or simply chat with a friend, they were free to do that, as long as it wasn’t disruptive to those around them. Then I let them go. Some sat in the desks; some moved to the cushions in the Reading Corner; some went to sit in the hall – a regular extended learning area in our Middle School. And I began my wandering.
There was silence, a few whispers, but mostly focused and concentrated silence. They had no need of anything but their own minds and hearts. They flipped through their resources and typed diligently away. I sat down; I wandered some more. Every now and then, there was a question or a request for me to proofread a section, but for the most part, they just wanted to work.
It wasn’t actually boredom, because I was focused on them and engaged in supporting their efforts, but it was far more passive than when I am directly the lesson. It felt great! The time was about them, and they knew what to do to make it happen! That’s a Spring Success!
You are the most amazing teacher !
My name is Emily, and I am in the EDM310 Education class at the University of South Alabama.I have been assigned to summarize my visits to your blog with posts on my personal and class blogs, and also to read and respond to a few of your posts!
Congratulations on your incredibly well-behaved students! Allowing them to get up and stretch their legs or study somewhere other than in their desk sounds so risky! Yet, it also sounds like a great opportunity for your students to be comfortable and enjoy their time of studying instead of being stuck in their desk the entire 90 minutes. Also, especially for me when I study, I find that I enjoy and comprehend what I’m studying better when I am comfortable. Allowing your students to do just that is a great way to keep them interested in History! I will certainly considered such an approach with my future students. It sounds like you have a wonderful group of students!
I am also in EDU 310 at The University of South Alabama and your post was so refreshing to me. This is one of the reasons why I hope to teach 4th, 5th, or 6th grade because the feeling you get at the end of the year when you have basically taught them and guided them all year and then they are ready to be out on their own is so rewarding. This “boredom” is almost impossible to enjoy with younger students. The fact that they are able to successfully research and finish projects and assignments with little help from you is proof that you have done your job. I wish more educators would follow suit with this end of the year relaxation. Students enjoy it more than teachers do!
Hello Mrs. Hadley, My name is Jamie Lyle and I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class. It is wonderful that the students were able to work on their own diary entries on their own. Towards the end of the year it is great that they are able to do assignments on their own with fewer questions. You are able to see how much they have learned over the year by how they are able to do things on their own. I am sure you are able to relax and take a breather at the end of the year when it comes time for this assignment!