In an effort to be more student centered, I decided to see how long I could go without speaking to the whole class at once. Instead, I posted all instructions and spent my time coming alongside individuals and interacting with groups of students. So far the results have been incredibly positive and there have been many revelations along the way.
So far I have found that…
I have more time for students who need it.
One of the benefits of creating a student-centered classroom with student choice in assignment and reading methods was a high level of student engagement. Nevertheless, when I went to calculate grades I was shocked to find a handful of student in each class who had hardly turned anything in. You have got to be kidding me! They come in every day, appear to be engaged, they do not disrupt or appear off task and yet–nothing. There were a few students that had actually never even logged in to Google Classroom.
No More Blaming The Student
In the past I would have left these students behind and would have blamed them for not doing anything.
This year, because I am not going any whole class direct instruction, I decided to create 1 group per class of student who needed a little extra help. So, today I called a few students over to an empty table and got them all started. I sat with each one and made sure each one was successful. Some students were just afraid to ask for help others just found in comfortable not doing anything.
Creating a Greater Sense of Urgency
I have been fairly lax with deadlines–giving two weeks to complete any assignment for full credit. The problem with this, however, is that some students don’t feel the need to complete it that day, therefore, they don’t work very efficiently. So, I broke the assignments down into bite sized chunks and told the class that they needed to finish part 1 because we will be doing part 2 next time. Now, the majority of the class is working with a greater sense of purpose. And, while everyone doesn’t quite finish in the allotted time, the bulk of the class is working with a greater sense of urgency.
Hopefully, the students that fell behind are now jump started into action. I was a little surprised by the level of capability in some of the students. Some just needed a little push, others needed to know what a verb was and how to find that out on their own. Some just needed to be guided through some elements of our daily routine that we have spent six weeks establishing.
Next year, I plan on taking this sort of remedial action sometime before week three rather than after week six.