Some thoughts from students and teachers at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, CO.
This year I have learned why it is important to uphold respect in the classroom--respect between students and respect between the student and teacher . . .
I believe my teacher has done her best to respect us--to trust us that we can do things on our own . . .
I respect her for letting us make our own choices, and I hope my classmates respect her as well. This kind of teacher-class relationship has made it easier to learn . . .
If everyone taught in hopes of trying to make students think instead of telling them what to think, the world would be a better place.
I learned more this year in math than I think I ever have, this class kept my attention, and made me appreciate math a little bit more.
I would recommend this class to any student looking for an opportunity to learn from innovative teaching methods . . .
Compared to previous English classes, I feel that this class has challenged me for the better in my ability to think critically and analytically.
I have probably learned more in this class than in any other class at Arapahoe. More importantly, however, I have probably THOUGHT more . . .
This class has broadened my understanding of literature, not only of the literature itself but of the methods of reading, thinking about, and discussing it.
It's one of my favorite classes because it is so innovative and personal. One assignment, called Philosophy books, gives us the opportunity to relate to any unit we've done in any media . . .
Last time, I played guitar and sang a song I wrote and it helped me to understand the Crucible better because I could relate a story based in the 1600s to my life.
I think it comes down to either presenting the facts and the rules and getting it over with, or infusing the students with a greater understanding of that era, idea, emotion, equation, etc...
How can you expect the students to create a rich, vast knowledge of many different subjects and make great connections to our world around us . . .
If the teachers don't have that themselves and can't present their own knowledge and connections to their students?
It makes me feel that we are all mature enough to understand and voice our ideas on these issues, and that the adults care enough to listen to what we have to say . . .
THIS is a true classroom--where we are free to pull together all aspects of life into one giant bowl of ideas. This class has honestly changed my outlook on English, a subject I never used to feel too passionate about, but now is one I have enjoyed profoundly this year.
I think everyone should have an experience like this in an English class because often times English classes are push over classes but this one is not. It challenges us to succeed and go beyond what we think we are capable of.
But upon returning for my fourth and final year, things were pretty much noticeably different right from the beginning . . . I feel like this year I'm finally expected to do more than simply regurgitate the information that I've been spoon-fed . . .
I feel more like my education is in my hands and I can do with it what I will. And I'm going to be honest; that's so much more appealing than "this is what I want for you to learn, and this is how you're going to learn it" . . .
So I guess what I'm really trying to say here is "Thanks". You all do so much for us as your students.
It's a major step to just be talking about it . . . I've already noticed teachers doing things differently in some of my classes, it must be a good thing. I think that a lot of teachers are embracing the new technology and using it to change how students can do things.
This quote from the comic strip Zits seems to relate. "High school isn't about education, it's about endurance."
School exists for students, it's simply a fact, so when students are not informed as to the goal or point of being educated, half the value is lost. It simply becomes a lesson in direction-following as opposed to critical thinking skills we will need.
All too often, we feel as if our teachers are condescending or trying to spoon-feed us things. I would suggest you sit down with a few students and really talk to them. Not about grades or what they did in biology last week . . .
But talk to them, you'll find that we're people. Actual people with thought processes just as complex as anyone over the age of eighteen . . .
Sometimes adults, parents, teachers or just people in the community forget that teenagers are still people. I could be wrong, but I certainly feel like a real person, and I hope to remind people that perhaps we aren't so different after all.
I personally think that there are two factors vital for learning. Allowing the students to discuss and test a new concept not only makes it more interesting, but it deepens our understanding . . .
This is regardless of subject. In algebra, all too often, people just learn the steps to solve an equation, but not why it works or why the equation does what it does, which is why it's forgotten quickly . . .
The other factor is relating the material to the real world. Just showing how some obscure chemistry principle applies to something we see every day makes it more accessible to students and more memorable, rather than just some letters we have to remember . . .
When our teachers tell us why we are learning something, it makes us feel like we are actually accomplishing something for ourselves, which is a big motivator.
I would agree that a system that merely forces education upon students without involving them is bound to fail.
Now an education is meaningless unless the student is taught to learn on their own. The world is changing too quickly for us to alter the curriculum in time, predicting what things will be like when we graduate . . .
There is no way to teach everything we will need to know. But by designing our own learning, we have the opportunity to learn to adapt and how our minds work best, which is the best education we can be offered.
Blog sites like Livejournal and Myspace tend to be portrayed in the media as a waste of time and just some weird trend with those darn kids . . .
And although many kids don't use the sites productively, I know a lot of kids who do. I personally use mine to get my ideas out there. It gives me a chance to get feedback and debate on anything from people all over the world.
I think that the only thing hindering the learning process is a refusal to embrace new methods or ideas to teach. I can store an image or document onto my mp3 and then upload it to a computer for an assignment or presentation . . .
Plus, I think that we students would certainly take the message more seriously if teachers actually told us and explained their own expectations . . .
I'll tell you right now, we play the game. By now we are experts. We have found ways to pass homework checks without so much as looking at the book, we have become masters in the art of improvising . . .
But certain teachers have us figured out and make assignments that force us to understand, but also motivate us to learn.
Instead of torturing us with overheads and memorizing the vocab out of books, she engaged us in the learning . . . In a class like that, our learning is placed entirely on our shoulders . . .
In the traditional class, when the teacher spends all the time at the board talking at us, I know that I can fall asleep for 20 minutes, make 3 paper airplanes and color a full notebook page with pencil in a single period and class will still go on the same . . .
All I can say is that I've made a lot of paper airplanes in my educational career.
I was blown away by what they were able to come up with in just five minutes; it far exceeded every lecture, overhead, and worksheet I'd given in the past. Instead of moving from whole to part, we moved from whole to part and back to whole again.
I think I feel more attached to my students this year because I've taken more risks with them and made myself a little more vulnerable than usual . . . This year my students have seemed more like actual humans to me...
In past years certain students might as well have been 2-dimensional cutouts because the only things I knew about them was how often they turned in their homework and how proficient they were in reading and writing . . .
When I look at them this year, however, I can see little pieces of the adults they're becoming. And I'm excited for their futures.
First of all, I remember having felt like this once before. It was sometime in college, when it suddenly dawned on me that everything I was learning and had ever learned fit together like a big jigsaw puzzle of life . . .
I feel like that now - everything I want to be as a teacher is connected to technology, improved feedback to kids, curriculum revision, daily interactions with colleagues and students, writing assignments, etc . . .
I think that I have become so bogged down in the day-to-day requirements of teaching that somehow I lost a bit of the big-picture focus I used to have.
It also occurred to me that it all goes back to a philosophy of education. We had to write one of those during graduate school, and if I can find it, I would like to read it . . .