Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Family of Learners.

It's spring. The grass is green, the sun was shining, and my Themes in Literature class was finally able to take the "field trip" to the library of the primary school next door to visit the books of their childhood, and discover, or rediscover, some characters of influence for their 101 Fictional Characters who influenced their lives.

It was a great visit, and I get to do it all again tomorrow with the first period section.

On the way back to the high school, I captured the picture above.  I have to tell you, I was a bit emotional thinking that I only have a little more than a month left with these learners -- and very, very, proud of who they are and who they have become as a group.

 A Family of Learners.

Themes in Lit. is an unusual high school class for a variety of reasons.  One of the most notable is the multi-grade levels represented.  The focus of the class is actually on metacognitive processes through a filter of a single topic of "theme" each semester.  Over the course of a four year cycle, various strategies are explored.  (In theory, allowing every student the opportunity to learn and practice cognitive strategies that could be transferred to other learning environments.)  The upperclassmen "get it" early in the semester, because they've been challenged to think and justify their thinking before.  They know that I rarely give specific parameters for projects or rubrics defining expectations -- and they get used to assignments that are presented with the "show your comprehensive understanding" or "demonstrate that you've chased the rabbit as far as you can" kinds of descriptions.    The upperclassmen support the underclassmen in modeling this rebel behavior, and something unusual happens.
The class bonds.  There is a gelling that happens where independent projects spark conversation between students.  Someone walks into class and casually mentions "I saw this, and it seemed like you need it for your project," tossing some reading material or other resource to support a classmate's project.  The voices in the classroom seek to include everyone in conversation during Socratic discussions, seeking others' opinions.

Today I realized how lucky I am, as I followed my class back to the high school.  They are friends, they are supportive of each other, and it is genuine.  Given a wide open field, they chose to walk side by side, sharing, inspiring and supporting each other.

Today my world is a beautiful place, because I am trusted with these amazing learners who teach me more about the world than I could possibly teach them.