The DP Literature students, eight in total, sat in a circle, ready to begin a Socratic seminar on intertextuality in the works of Langston Hughes. They knew their respective roles and responsibilities to keep the conversation going, but I never knew how well any seminar would go. That day, the students built on prior comments, respectfully challenged others’ assertions, provided textual evidence supporting their statements, demonstrated their understanding, and maintained a discussion at a very high intellectual level for almost 45 minutes. Even students who normally were reluctant participants in class conversations actively and passionately presented their observations and defended their conclusions. The level of intellectual engagement and demonstration of mastery in that Socratic seminar is now the baseline against which I measure the success of other classes.
Saturday, February 20, 2016
It was during my first year teaching abroad - 2010. I was the middle school drama teacher at the International School of Brussels, a school that is known for their Special Education programs. I had never worked with special needs students before and by this day I had been doing so for about a month. One of the students didn’t talk much and was always accompanied by an aide. This student would always play the warm-up games but then kind of withdraw during the time we would work on scripts. She had some reading concerns so the aide would always talk her through her lines. On my greatest teaching day, it was a day I introduced improv. After our normal games, I had them begin an improv game. Her hand shot right up as a volunteer. Her improv scene was funny, witty, and it made the entire class see her in a new way. It made ME see her in a new way. This moment showed the power of theater. This moment showed other students to look beyond disabilities. This moment showed ME that just a small shift in an activity can reach students you thought may be unreachable.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
The best day that I have ever had while teaching was last year, during my Senior English classes. We were reading Macbeth and the students were broken up into groups of four; each group was in charge of answering a set of questions (JIGSAW) about the text on google docs in our Google classroom. Everyone was working collaboratively on their chromebooks. I saw my students working together, asking esynthesis questions, and finally taking charge and owning their learning.