Saturday, October 31, 2015

Colleen's Halloween Weekend Reflection

Woah! What a wonderful 24-hours it has been. I am truly amazed and more invested in this project than ever before. Our 18 students came in yesterday at 4 pm. At first they sat silently on their phones, not speaking. By 9 pm I felt a true sense of bonding. They were having fun! Three girls (representing 2 schools and 3 grades) sat on the floor still discussing their group topic; at least eight students sat around one of the large wooden tables playing cards. A few others were huddled on a couch watching Netflix, while some were slipping off to bed. Despite the various activities going on, I truly felt a sense of community forming...that maybe they'd stay in touch beyond the parameters of our year-long class. But it is too soon for that. And there is still more to think and reflect upon. 

  • I loved watching students make connections (via affinity maps) between their various topics. They see and understand how all these aspects of our lives are connected! 
  • Realizing it's okay to push students beyond their comfort zone. I guess I've always known this was the job of the teacher, but I'm not sure I exercise it too often. I'm so often worried about losing my students' interest or pushing them too far, that I back off and make sure they are happy and comfortable. While I deflected the role of asking students to change their topic, I see the benefit in doing so. 
  • You don't have to be old[er] or have had lots of life experiences to be passionate about extremely important issues. 
I Wonder...
  • I wonder how my group of 5 will manage to work together and complete task on time?
  • I wonder if I should let them sink a little, before throwing the life vest or if I should intervene before they need the life vest? 
  • I wonder how we can make sure students continue to write and reflect as much as possible? 
  • I wonder if the students enjoyed this time together? I wonder if they look forward to or dread the next overnight? Maybe we can gather feedback (a survey?)                                    

In my experience, the Bread Loaf School of English has always stressed the importance of bringing what we learn back to the classroom. If they truly believe in this, I can't imagine a more "Bread Loafy" project. Not only have we taken our passions from the summer and carried them through the school year, but we (the adults) continue to make connections and improve our teaching craft by seeing and talking to each other on a regular basis. What wonderful conversations I've had with Kate, Ben, Bob, Bill or Tim in just the 15 minute breaks we gave the students.  

Finally, I am a bit concerned about throwing them right into interviewing. While there is some benefit to this approach, I am wondering if the groups need more time to develop a focus, research questions, and do background research? Just a thought, that may make initiating and conducting interviews easier. 

What a weekend! 

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