To chronicle my first year of teaching I am starting this blog, after Thanksgiving break. Who knows how much I will continue, but reflection is always good and aids in personal (and professional) growth.
Today was the Monday after Thanksgiving. The students were chipper, slightly weary as their food comas from the previous holiday were still in effect. While some students remembered their homework assignments – others were stupefied that I actually wanted them to submit their work – a light ‘Thankfulness Activity’ to help them reflect on their lives and how biology affects them, and practice their classification (and internet searching) skills. To my horror, I realized that I forgot to post the assignment on Google Classroom, which is why some of my students forgot to do the assignment (or at least turn it in!). While I wish I could expect my students to turn in their assignments without such a digital reminder – I rolled with it. Extension until Thursday given. While sometimes I feel like a gracious hosts about giving extensions, I feel remorse for the student who did her work on time, who followed instructions -and for the student who was given too much time, and by the time the assignment was due had forgotten all about it. The middle is hallowed ground, that every educator strives to hit for maximum success.
My lesson today was a brief overview of Mitosis – rather, their lesson. Guiding questions helped students find all of the stages of mitosis online, and share them with their peers. A lesson that would have taken me at least a few days, with students asking me to wait before I moved on to the next slide while another was stealthily shopping on the internet in another tab (because the slides are online, it is 2018). This was engaging, and I could see the students start to visualize the process that explains how we have so many cells in this magnificent body humans have – a process discussed in the briefest of ways to promote questioning and independent research (and, because it is not found on any standards list for 8th grade life science, but something that I believe needs to be discussed in a little bit nonetheless). It was quick, speedy, and I also knew my students needed time to process and explore. We started making flip-books, which double as a study device, with phases on one side and names/descriptions on the other. I also suggested students try to make a GIF instead for extra credit (if they dared). I could feel my ‘fly’ points rise as I told them I made a GIF in my middles school science class before they were cool (and, well, functioning effectively).
As the students colored on to create this mini project before the bell rang I could feel my heart sink as the realization came that my students would definitely need more time to understand this process. As an educator who’s passionate about her subject matter, I’ve come to the realization that we rush through certain material. I need to slow down. While some students were almost done today, others were distracted by the temptation of seeing what cyber monday deals were available to them (and had parely cut the pages to make a tiny book). Perhaps I should accept this, and accept that they may not finish this small project on time stress-free (was I seriously expecting them to work on homework? At home??). Or, maybe I should slow down (and risk behavior projects by my smart, yet rebellious, students). Nonetheless, it is a daily struggle and I need to slow down, and be patient with myself. Finding the perfect place in the battleground of due dates and effective learning takes time – my patience cannot end at my student. Instead, I need to slow down,take a break (and a sip of coffee), and be still – enjoying the littlest of victories.
Today’s victory? Having my students exclaim with joy and laugh as they created and colored their tiny flip books (a precursor to film, as one of my students taught me today) as well as the silent concentration of my students as the bell rang for the next class period – not a pre-packed bag in sight.