Two Things At Once

At the end of the day at UNCCWP SI, I’m wondering about…

A) Ways to use writing to help students connect their experiences to history
B) How to problematize/complicate student assumptions about motivations/beliefs of people in the past
C) How to do both things at once, at least within the space of a class or several class days

I see students (and adults, for that matter) often falling at one of two ends of a spectrum. At one end is the assumption that they think exactly like people in the past, and therefore, drawing conclusions that are erroneous. Or they fall on the opposite end of the spectrum, assuming that people of the past are so removed from them that they are unable to understand their motivations or feelings.

I feel like I do a decent job of encouraging A) in my Upper School class (in assignments like this), but I struggle with ways to invite personal connections to material with which I am less familiar, such as my World History class. B) can feel hard to judge, and it’s often only once I read students answers on a test that I realize they are making¬†assumptions¬†that aren’t historically warranted based on the evidence we have.

Any history is a narrative. I want to think about how to present those narratives and ways of accessing those narratives such that they don’t lend themselves easily to either a simplistic reading or a failure to engage the narrative because it feels so foreign.

I Need a Picture!

I hate busting students for technology violations, probably because I know how easy it is for me to get distracted by tech. But rules are rules and for the most part enforcing them is a part of helping students monitor their own behavior and develop good habits.

So when I looked over today towards the end of study hall and saw the tell-tale movements of thumbs under the desk, I sighed and said, “X, I need to see you please.” (Students are not allowed to use cell phones during the day in the Middle School.) As the student approached my desk, I realized what he was holding was not a cell phone, but an incredibly sweet wireless keyboard. (You can get your own here.) “Dude, I need to get a picture of that!” I exclaimed. He smiled, knowing my love of all things tech.

Sweet Keyboard

Although I think I have generally good “teacher intuition” and can evaluate situations quickly, I’ve learned that it’s better to start with questions, rather than accusations. Today was a good reminder that things are not always as they seem.