Teaching at a small school does have it’s perks: you know everyone, there are very few secrets, and you get the chance to teach your own children.
I taught my oldest daughter as a sixth grader. She’s a beautiful, smart, well spoken child, however, she is a master at not being noticed. I’d see her kind before. Not raising their hand, sliding to the back, all that good stuff, and my daughter fit that description like a glove. Her escape, books. She’s very well read, but would ignore classmates to read. It’s a discussion that we’ve had a lot at our house, the idea of what engagement is. For her, the social aspect of school is not one she’s comfortable with at all (like father like daughter) so she “hides” in books.
She says it’s because:
a. she knows the materials.
b. classmates are being “idiots” (her words not mine!) and she’s trying to block them out.
c. she’s not doing with her work and she’s avoiding it.
I struggle with that because I see all of what she says. She does know the materials, her classmates are not the nicest people on the planet, and she’s been late with work simply because she avoids it!
But watching her last night find that happy place (hot chocolate, blanket, cat, book) it got me thinking about her and my classes in general. I worked my tail off to keep her engaged, constantly calling her out to join the discussion, to stop hiding in fiction, and join us in the real world. It would bug her to no end, but my job is to keep those who are not engaged, engaged! How many students in your class to fight that same way for? Battle to get their thoughts? Their words? And all they want to do is to not be noticed!
I get it, I’m that person. I will do the same, find my happy place, my safe place even as an adult especially when I feel uncomfortable or threatened. Yet, I’m coming out of that shell, and after only 41 years too! 🙂 And I understand the pain all too well of being painfully shy, I deal with that now. However, it cannot stop you or I from doing our jobs. Nor can it stop us from continually looking for new ways of pulling those students along. With Twitter, Skype, Voice Thread, Voki, and any assortment of other types of technology, these students now have that voice! In fact, we talked today about TenMarks, a math program, at the lunch table today and how students can send a message to the teacher, something they’d not come up and say. This teacher was sent a very nice message from a student, one who doesn’t talk much. She was just floored this student, the quietest in the class, would send a note that said how much she appreciated her teacher pushing her in math.
So, as we think, “do I have to drag them into the conversation,” yes, we do! 🙂