The estimated reading time for this post is 1 minutes
I’m so appreciative a connection I made a few years back at Mendez Fundamental’s first GATE Symposium. I was so impressed with the students as they were sharing their discoveries. This work by the way, was voluntary and ungraded, yet the quality of the work was far beyond anything I had required of my students. During the event, the students were absolute stars; they were alive. They were excited about all they had accomplished, and they were eager to share it.
Why was I not tapping into this energy in my classroom? As I started reflecting on answers to that question, I recognized that my students had an audience of just one, me. I thought that if I were in my class, I’d be pretty unmotivated; why would I want to work hard on something I’m not passionate about for a person who really doesn’t seem to show any interest in my work. This realization was humbling.
I started to reflect on how I could help my students find an audience, an audience that consisted of more than me. I know students have something valuable to say, but my class did not provide the opportunity to share their learning process or show off their work. I knew something had to change. I wanted what Sharon Romeo, the coordinator of the GATE Symposium and dear friend, got out of these kids.
So, I tried to build a system that allowed students to decide what they will do, how they will do it, how they will show it off, and how they will share it with an audience that chooses them. Tradition and fear loomed over me claiming I wouldn’t have time to cover what I’m supposed to cover, but reality kept reminding me that my current methods just weren’t working. I wish I could say the new effort was a complete success, but I can’t. However, it was a change in my mindset and a change in class culture, and my underdeveloped approach was actually quite an improvement to that culture, and I knew it was a win.
My new approach is to actually do what I ask students to do, and that’s why I’m sharing. Here’s a short video of the GATE Symposium, which I referred to earlier in the post.