Students sharing their wisdom

It’s been a while since my last post.

What can I tell you? It’s been busy.

There always seems to be this guilt that hangs over me when I don’t post for extended periods of time. Like I am letting down subscribers…luckily I don’t have too many (thank you, those of you who are here!).

But not having posted does not mean that I haven’t been involved and getting stuck in. (I also post tech how-to’s on another blog, Talking Tech.)

I truly enjoyed a geek session with colleagues, listening to the Warlick keynote from the K12 Online Conference. We, like many, were active in the live chat which was very rewarding.

Even got a little mention on the 2 cents blog, which was pretty cool. Though, appropriately, it was for something a student said to me, rather than any epiphany I’ve offered.

Figures.

In that same chat online I shared a cool NYTimes opinion piece on Facebook from the students’ perspective. Paraphrasing:

We adults take this networking thing too seriously…it’s all supposed to be fun with our friends.

Definitely a good read.

Then working at home last week, I was twittering at the right time to catch Chris Lehmann’s invite to join his class at SLA in a UStream conversation – a terrific experience that Chris posted about. His students are articulate and offered the best description of the difference between a project assessment vs a test.

Paraphrasing:

Tests are what the teachers thinks you’ve learned based on what they covered, but a project is based on what you need to learn.

(Only more eloquent than that.)

The point was well-made. Students own the learning they do in authentic, open-ended projects. For tests they do what they need to, in order to get a good grade.

And all of this got me thinking…

I worry about getting too far removed from the classroom as an Ed Tech guy or as an administrator. Away from the classroom, we lose touch with the wisdom of our students – the insights into how they see the world and the openings for us to be their educators.

We concern ourselves with the big goals and forget the small goals. We don’t have, often enough, the conversations that allow students to connect with us and us with them. The conversations that show how much we value them and their thoughts.

I think that ALL educators in and out of the classroom need to remember and embrace that they are more than “content delivery devices” or even information facilitators. There is a human connection that must be made with students.

Years ago, I heard or read that so much of teen difficulties come from the fact that they are undervalued in society. In pre-Industrial Revolution days, they were working the farm, contributing to the family. Valued. But now, they have little to nothing to make them feel “of worth”. This was a main argument for Service Learning in schools and I am all for that.

I also think that educators have the power to make students feel valued and worthwhile EVERY DAY. In the way we treat them, the way we listen to them, and the way we ask them what they think.

Chris did this with the students on UStream for us, but I imagine he and the SLA faculty do this all the time with their students. When asked what they valued about being at SLA, these students did not speak of the technology or the technological prowess of their faculty. They spoke of the connectedness and self-worth they felt with their teachers, who genuinely cared about their learning and their well-being.

I can’t say it any better than that.

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5 thoughts on “Students sharing their wisdom

  1. “There is a human connection that must be made with students.” I have been thinking about this a great deal lately. For all the worth of moving forward with online communication and collaboration skills, the real skill starts with making connections with others face to face. If someone cares, we will learn. Sure people around the globe can be involved but the teacher and student are in the same room, working together each day. That connection is most important.

  2. Will Richardson posted on similar learning from students just 4 days later!

    Of course, written so eloquently as always.

    Check it out here.

  3. Pingback: don’t forget the human connection « leading from the heart

  4. This thread reminds me of a quote I like to cite…I have no clue who first said or wrote it 🙂

    They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

    I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit these past few weeks.

    A little while ago I was teaching my students some nifty new trick for their blog writing – like embedding media or something like that. One of my students was really not into it and I had to hover and nag for him to get even a fraction of his assignment done. As the bell rang, he hung around until the others left and asked if I would walk him to a new class he was starting the following morning. When I responded that I would he surprised me by spontaneously hugging me! This is a boy in grade 7! At that moment I knew that it was the human connection and not the nifty blogging tricks that was important for that child (and for me, as it touched me deeply.)

    Since then, I’m thinking about how to merge those feelings of security and caring with learning. I think that is the key.

    Thanks for a great post, Dennis. 🙂
    ps – as you know, I have turned this comment into a post on my blog. It’s something I want to underline, so often the human connection gets lost.

  5. Pingback: The Power of Connections–A Teacher’s Thoughts

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