A few weeks ago, I came across the 5 word GPS challenge. Dave Burgess encourages teachers to think about what they want students to say about their class at an end of year reflection, then, use those as a way to guide your teaching throughout the year.
Once I started brainstorming, I noticed a trend. I want my students to think of a lot of F’s!
- Frequently learn useful stuff
- Fail forward
- Freedom of choice, and
- Freedom from Fear
First, I want my students to learn skills and habits of mind that are relevant to them now, and for the future. Secondly, I’m going to help them to understand that an initial failure isn’t the end of the line in their learning. It’s just a first step. Of course I want my class to be fun and engaging. Kids learn best that way. Finally, freedom. I’ll let my students make choices about their learning tasks. Sometimes that will be through allowing them to choose a topic and sometimes it will be through allowing them to choose how they show their understanding. Especially at the middle school level, giving students the respect of trusting them to make choices helps them to feel the autonomy they are truly beginning to crave. Freedom from fear is listed last, but is the most important. I want my students to be free from feeling fear while they are with me. I want to cultivate a caring space. A bully-free zone. A room where failure isn’t scorned but is viewed as an opportunity. Kids who are “different”, I want them to feel welcome, comfortable, and valued.
By sharing these thoughts explicitly and acting on them each day through our time together, and I hope that my students will come to feel that we’ve accomplished something fantastic. F? Yeah!
Take some time before your students arrive to consider how you want them to describe your class. Share in the comments!