With three weeks under my belt, I'm in a good position to make a quick observation about my first impressions of youth in today's classroom. I begin each of my class periods with a writing prompt exercise which requires the student to jot a response to a question I pose. Sometimes I make it fun with "If you could be on a game show, what would you choose and why?" and other days I ask them to get serious with "At this time in your life, what is the hardest thing you are pushing yourself to do?" During those first few days of school, most of my students thought that I was probably going to relinquish this daily task, but then they saw that I meant business with the daily routine. I laid forth the premise that daily reflections provided them with an opportunity to organize their thoughts, and in turn this would benefit their ability to complete essay questions on future tests.
This past week I collected their notebooks for the first time, making a quick examination of their responses to make sure they were in compliance if only in the simplest way. With some I found just that, the bare minimum, but with others I found a wonderful transformation taking place. Over the course of three weeks a sizable amount of the students had begun to develop a style to their writing, and whether they realize it or not, they are enhancing their ability to think and then communicate those thoughts on paper.
As much as I'd like to think that all is well, I am also aware that there are those who are not putting forth much of an effort, producing only the bare minimum in their work. This is the challenge at hand, getting them to see the big picture behind what I'm attempting to communicate. Some will buck the system simply because it's someone of authority trying to tell them what to do, while others are totally uncomfortable with the prospect of having to put a pencil in hand to write.
My challenge is getting both ends of the spectrum to move along with the process, to push them to find new ways of thinking so they don't get too comfortable with where they are in life. To aspire more by thinking outside of the box and being able to see the big picture. I knew this wasn't going to be easy, and in so many ways this is the challenge I love in teaching!