Aside from a couple of days for review and another for semester exams, my time with two classes of freshmen in U.S. History is drawing to a rapid close. These groups have been a enjoyable experience, and they have grown in their learning and understanding of history overall. I sense a savvy sort of self-confidence in their ability to grasp concepts for the who, what, where, when and why of American history. This doesn't mean that they will fully engage in an ongoing study of our heritage, but many will be able to take their new-found knowledge to a higher level. The seeds of learning have been planted and I, as nurturer of developing minds, now take a step back and watch what unfolds in the years to come.
From the first day of school it became obvious that some students were ill-prepared for writing assignments, either by personal dislike for reflecting on their life or unfamiliarity of the total impact literacy will play in their future. Over the past five months they've become better listeners, higher thinkers and improved writers in their approach to learning....at least in my classroom. They acknowledge this in their attitude towards me as well as their fellow students. Time after time they've responded to my challenges, knowing that I was carefully examining their progress.
But just as the student grows, so does the teacher. By spending time in personal reflection, I have a better understanding of how a young mind develops. I always remind my classes of how I, a young man of sixty years, am still learning in life. Their input, be it positive or negative, inspires me to improve upon my performance with both lesson planning and the development of assessments. What did you like about this class? How could you have been more engaged? What topic was most interesting to you? Which topic was most boring or hard to understand? If you could change 1-2 things about this class, what would they be? What new skills have you learned over the past five months? What did you learn about yourself? This feedback will allow further improvement in my performance in years to come, making learning all the more meaningful...be it with my students in the classroom or in my ongoing pursuit of higher education.