Discussions on education are like entering into a hurricane. Nothing is nailed down. No one can tell what direction they are flying. Everyone speaks in the name of students, some who spend every day with them and others who haven’t spent significant time with youth since they were ones themselves.
But students do notice; the odd minutia that makes up a classroom, the tiny little habits that a teacher adopts and adapts after years in the front of those bored faces. And I have proof, from the mouths of babes. My students complete portfolios at the end of the year, in which I ask them to reflect on how their skills and thinking has changed or improved over the year. Here are the observations of one young lady:
“Towards the middle of the year, I began highlighting the subtopics for each set of notes for organization and abbreviating more because Ms. Baker would remind the class that we should be abbreviating. She would ask the class what we were abbreviating which gave me ideas on new abbreviations. She also switched to the next slide more quickly so I had less time.”
This strategy came out of simply a curiosity I had. I have always been teaching students how to use abbreviations and guiding them in all the different ways to use this skill. But in real-time I wasn’t sure what they were doing, so I began to simply ask. It took maybe 3 minutes out of the class. I hardly noticed that it had become a new habit in my classroom, nor that it had a clear impact. But students notice.