Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Pout That Made Me Smile

Photo Credit: Heidi & Matt
Flickr Creative Commons
Yesterday morning, the power was out across Pitt Meadows and was not expected to return for many hours.

Result: No school for students.

As I drove to my school, I stopped at an intersection next to a nearby elementary school and saw a big sign announcing "No School" so that the parents of the wee ones wouldn't have to stop their cars to inquire.  I waited as a group of students and parents crossed the street and, in an instant, I saw something that made me smile.

An older elementary student was approaching the school with her father and I saw her eyes meet the news on the sign.  Her entire face immediately dropped as her lower lip produced an absolutely fantastic pout.  My immediate thought was, "Awwww...poor kid!"

As I parked my car two minutes later, I began to think how awesome that little moment was.  She was sad that there were no classes.  She had been genuinely excited about going to school.  How great is that?  I had to tell a few colleagues about the adorable moment I'd witnessed.

I recently started working as a mentor with an SFU Field Program and had the opportunity to visit a cohort which hosted Chris Kennedy last night.  This evening, the cohort that I will be working with hosted Grant Frend.  While discussing changes in the education system, both educators mentioned that studies show a drop in engagement as students age.

This glimpse of elementary school and sessions with leaders in education, of course, made the tiny wheels in my brain start turning.  I wonder:
  • Were any of my students disappointed to miss school?
  • What makes secondary students excited about school?
  • Are the results of the study accurate?  If so, what are we doing about this?
  • Students are generally excited to return to school in September.  How can we "bottle" that excitement and bring it out year-round?
  • How much of this drop in engagement is related to adolescent development?
  • Why are instruction, assessment, and reporting practices so different between elementary and secondary schools?
  • Do longer classes impact student engagement?
  • Do students feel more pressure from parents, teachers, and the outside world when they hit secondary school?
  • Do students feel disconnected when they have eight teachers?
  • Do students feel disconnected when they have more classmates?
  • While I try to increase levels of engagement in my classroom, am I doing enough?  What else could I be doing?
I have no answers.  Only questions.  Give me your wisdom, dear colleagues.

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