I had my final year 9 class yesterday.
This year, I have actively tried to take a more ‘interventionist’ approach and purposefully used formative assessment more often, engaged students in more peer-peer teaching, openly discussed approaches to learning such as mindset, garnered feedback through Google Docs survey tool and used focus-intense resources (even using mime to illustrate what a radian is with Beethoven’s 5th as background) to ‘hook’ students in and reinforce the idea that knowledge had to be made by them (and guided by me) amongst others…
Throughout the course of the year I talked about the importance of risk-taking, of accepting the difficulty and the promise of challenge, of continually reflecting on errors in order to use them to support further learning and the importance of extending one’s reach.
I was therefore very moved, and extremely humbled, to have the following responses from these students. One drew me a Venn diagram showing three intersecting sets – one labelled “Pleasure”, one “Learning” and one “Opportunities”. The part of the diagram that represented the intersection of all three sets was labelled “Our Class”. I responded with my own Venn diagram. My sets were called “Humour”, “Intelligent about their learning” and “Willingness to Explore” and again labelled the intersection of all three as “Our Class”.
One student gave me a card. I cannot describe the thrill I received from reading that she believed I had taught her that getting 100% is not the goal for learning; that there are more important things. Even better was the statement that she had been inspired to be a teacher of mathematics.
In another card, a student thanked me for extending her knowledge base and making her want to find out more.
The thing is…it’s not me. It’s them. These young people have all this potential, enthusiasm, capacity and hope within them. We are just the privileged ones who get to see it and work with it and share it around.
This is what makes teaching such a joy…and why it matters so much.