Where there is wobble, change is occurring…
These 3 terms are totally new to me. I was nervous about approaching this week’s reading and blogging because of this word wobble. But, after finally committing to the readings and reflecting upon my lessons this week, holy moly I wobble all the time! And then, I rely heavily on my mentors and allies to pick myself up! I usually go into a new school year with at least one, if not more, goal. So, this is my pose. And then after a couple days, weeks or months, my pose sometimes changes as I reach my wobbling point in hopes to reach a flow. And what’s really great after reading this week is that the whole process of pose, wobble flow has helped me reflect at home as well. My husband is currently away for 3 weeks (military duty) and I am working and balancing our home life with a now 4 years (on Friday) and a 5 year old. My 4 year REALLY knows how to challenge me and test my limits, thank God for the 5 year old who levels me, hehe! I strive to set boundaries and consequences for him. When my husband is away these boundaries quickly fade as I convince myself I am in “survival mode” and especially after a long day at work and school there is some chaos, but of course some of it is organized ;). So, I begin to wobble. Elements need to improve and change needs to occur, I cannot dismiss what he needs from me. I leave my comfort zone of structure in order to keep him happy, but I need to make decisions that are going to make our time safe and fun and promote making good choices that will effect our future. So, this week we made some changes and we were definitely in a flow, which included more communicating, consequences and snuggles! I listened to him. I observed him. I saw how he reacted towards me. I used his interests and passions, and implemented my structure and routine. It worked.
Throughout the year, hard questions are definitely raised from my practices and it was reassuring to read some stories of fellow educators and their wobbling experiences on Bob Fecho’s site Storri. The first experience that I read was Privileged Expectations, written by a high school English teacher. Before taking on his new high school positions, he described his classroom as rigorous and structured, utilizing a “curriculum menu” as formative and summative assessments, showing mastery of concepts. His students were engaged and scoring high on standardized tests. When it was time for him to transition intro the high school that is when his wobble occurred. His past students and their parents did not want him. They wanted the “easy A.” I think what caused his wobble was his passion for his idea of the “curriculum menu” and the positive results. But, was it positive for all of his students? Could they demonstrate mastery of the content in a different way? After reaching this wobble, he reflected and changed his outlook. He expressed that he wanted his students to develop skills and necessarily the content. He developed a setting that provided more creativity, freedom and made it more real-world. I can relate to this. As a language teacher I would love for my students to focus on developing skills for more communication, but I feel like I rely heavily on the content. But, isn’t that what I am supposed to be doing?
Another story I read from Storri was It Takes More Than One Victory, written by another English teacher. She writes about a 7th grade student, Liam. She describes him as an “in and out” student. I have A LOT of them. On their good days they are good, sometimes even great! But, on their not so good days, the continuous interruptions cause frustration for me and their classmates. But, when they shine, they truly shine! She writes that her wobble came from his inconsistency to perform in class, which then made her doubt his commitment to the school’s poetry slam that he showed interest in. I, too, am guilty of doubting some of my students. In life, we all make assumptions. But if we are making daily observations of our students, it makes sense to have these assumptions. “Sometimes you just have to hook students with compliments, encouragement, and faith, and they will pull through. Sometimes.” This is what the English teacher in this story tells us…Liam did it, though. He participated in the poetry slam. He went on to districts and won. He was the youngest winner ever. When we find their interests and provide them with opportunities to shine in their comfort zone, they thrive. In Liam’s case here, he still continued to have his good and bad days. I see this more often than not. For my inconsistent performers, I really, really try to encourage them. And when I do, I can see it on their faces, that it does mean something to them.
I am currently reflecting on my week last week. I feel like I had very different expectations for my students than they were expecting, which caused some wobble..stay tuned!