This week I selected and interviewed two of my students out of a technology class I am observing. I created a list of questions to ask them that I thought would be insightful and give me a little more information about their personalities and educational needs.
1. Where are you from?
2. Who is your favorite teacher and/or class and why?
3. If you could choose to do anything for a day, instead of school, what would it be?
4. What is something that helps you learn or makes learning more enjoyable for you?
5. What is something you think I should know? Or you want me to know?
6. What do you want to do once you graduate?
1. From [void].
2. Current favorite class is band. I really enjoy playing an instrument. I play a euphonium.
3. Stay home, eat sushi and donuts, and play games with my brother all day.
4. The only reason why people say I'm so smart is because I'm a fast learner.
5. I'm definitely not a regular girl. You know those girls that are like, "ew?!"--they're so annoying. I'm honestly more of a gamer person, as soon as I get home I'm on the computer.
6. I was thinking...I had an idea. We took a quiz at school last year and it had a possibility of what we could be, and I had an idea to begin with before we took the test. I was thinking I could be an astronomer. I have a sister who is studying right now to be a doctor. I've always liked space a lot.
1. From [void].
2. Probably Miss [void], for ELA--a language arts class. I like that class because she makes us sit wherever we want, as long as we work and brings snacks. And we do fun things in there. Tomorrow we are going to play games if we get our work done.
3. Get out of town. I would probably go to Mexico or New York. Mexico because I haven't been there, and my grandma and grandpa are over there; and New York because I want to see big towers.
4. Talking with a group and doing experiments. In this class, I wish we would make things...starting to make things. I don't like these, making paper airplanes. You have to do lots of research on them--like you have to do "does it fly good or not, make the sizes"...I don't like that. It's boring. I would rather start making things, but then we have to make a bunch of research. The things he wants us to do are boring. I get that, when we started making the rules... I'm fine with that. But then it started getting boring. We don't get to use the tools.
5. Like I said, it's just boring. We barely get to do nothing. It's just paper, instead of using the tools.
6. I want to get a job. My mom said that when I was little I wanted to be a doctor...and I might.
| Conclusion |
There were many things that stood out to me about these interviews but I think two of the most important concerns were a) learning styles and b) purposeful activities. I am sure it's difficult to get to know every single student on a deeply personal level, but it's necessary to at least gather information about their learning styles so you can accommodate properly alongside what they are interested in and how much you should challenge them. If these kids are planning on growing up to be astrologers and doctors, they want more of a challenge. They know when the project is useful to them, and when it isn't. Some classes, sure they won't be interested right off the bat because it just "isn't their thing". That's why making every lesson tailored to spark their interest in some way is really important! When it came down to S2's frustration about the current project, I felt partially at a loss due to material funds. I'm pretty sure we choose more material simple projects because our availability and access is low--however I don't believe that's an excuse for boring projects! Based on these kids and their interests, I think there could be a greater complexity for the projects. When S1 said, "People think I'm smart because I'm a fast learner", what happens when you aren't? What happens when she isn't? I've seen it. The teacher became incredibly frustrated and thought she was acting out, when in fact it was because she is a perfectionist (Reference my last blog post). You've GOT to know your kids and know their learning styles or they will be drowning or bored in .05 seconds, and just making it easy is not your only option. With explanatory demonstrations, specific instructions, and encouragement to ask the teacher or their peers questions...there is so much room for incredible growth in these smart and capable kids. We really need to leave more room for conversation.
For this week's art project, I decided to do a self portrait. The use of black and white ink is representative of the structure of the public education system, seeing learning in a "black and white manner" or "one size fits all". The use of geometric shapes and lines push the boundary of standardized learning, yet remain trapped by a border of chaotic red lines. I see the struggle in my students to gain more from their educational experiences, yet there is no outlet or opportunity for their voices to be heard.
For more details + documentation of my artworks created to accompany these blog posts, visit my instagram!