When We Are Them

One of the strongest impressions I have had at the Klingenstein Summer Institute so far is a reminder of what it feels like to be a student. Our schedule has a couple of afternoon hours of free time built in, but with the exception of that, we go from breakfast at 7:15am (ok, I usually slide in around 7:40am) to the end of class at 8:30pm. Somewhere in that schedule we also have to squeeze in homework, exercise, sleep, and hanging out. We have an amazing group of lead teachers whose practice matches the ideas that many of us hold about education (teachers should also be learners, student feedback and formative assessment are important, etc.)

But despite all their efforts and the genuine desire of all the participants to whom I’ve talked to engage in the process, we’re starting to slip a bit. I’ll confess that I’m not getting all the homework done, and I’m finding it harder to focus in class. My creeping apathy (or maybe it’s exhaustion) bothers me, probably because it frustrates me when I see it in my students.

I was thinking about this as I caught some of the tweets coming out the ISTE2010 keynote tonight. I’m sure others will offer recaps in their blog posts, but the general gist I got was that the presentation was not as engaging as it might have been. (I was reminded of danah boyd’s Web 2.0 expo talk where the backchannel chatter turned very critical.)

The discussion prompted me to tweet this…

Here were a few reactions…

My tweet wasn’t meant to be a slam at the keynoter or those choosing to leave the keynote; I was just thinking out loud. I don’t believe that children should have all the rights and privileges of adults, but I do think it’s interesting to consider how adults act when we find ourselves in similar situations as our students.


5 thoughts on “When We Are Them

  1. It can be exhausting to be a student. When I was student teaching, one of our assignments was to pick two students and shadow them through the day. One of mine kept forgetting me, and I got lost. I couldn’t follow along in some of his classes and had to fight to pay attention—heck, to stay awake! They have to shift gears so frequently. I was so tired.

  2. Intrinsic motivation is an important consideration, I think. When I teach calculus, I know my students don’t find the subject very interesting and are mostly taking the course because they have to. As a result, I go the extra mile in making the course more engaging and the material more relevant to the students.

    Conference keynotes often function like required calculus courses in terms of intrinsic motivation. They’re not concurrent sessions where participants can self-select into sessions of particular interest. A keynote speaker should probably go the extra mile in making the keynote more engaging and relevant to the audience.

  3. As the reader of your tweet I did not take it to be a slam at the keynote. I think it is very hard to be a presenter. Never presented to such a large group only small and I know how my knees shake having done both good and bad presentations. I have never walked out no matter how bad a session or presenter has been. What I meant by my comment was it should be a learning opportunity for evaluating and correcting for future presentations. I know I have been in front of students that wish they could get up and walk out. I feel as an instructor at times I can see the apathy in my students which causes me to struggle and keep striving for better ways to keep them engaged. We all are evolving, ever learning, and striving to do better.

  4. Meredith,
    Really interesting post. My 6th grade teacher gave us 3 self-remove days at the beginning of each semester. You could use them when the teacher wasn’t meeting your needs and also when you were simply having a hard day. (sometimes, in love, she would even suggest it–which really opened my eyes, as a teenager, to self-care.) It was neat to be trusted with that kind of freedom, and maybe because she gave it to us, very few of us used it.

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