An interesting thing has happened in one of my classes this semester. We have, as happens every semester, had a few days where the discussion “rook a right turn.” What I mean by that is that we went down the rabbit hole, but it was still related to what were doing in class and learning still happened. I used to call this taking a left turn, but then one of my students said it was the right turn because learning still happened. I kind of like that way of thinking about it.
I don’t know about you, but I am always wanting more student engagement in my classes. I would rather have students excited about the topic and talking over each other with me trying to keep our discussion on the right track than to get no response when I am teaching. We’ve all had those days, right? You know the ones. They were perfectly illustrated in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…
In talking with some other professors and teachers this week, it has been interesting to hear the responses to my last blog post about asking students what they want to learn. In fact, it has kept my brain hopping this past week. My Ed Tech class has had a few days where the discussion had to be reined back in to the topic at hand, but in general they have been really engaged with what we are learning. Currently, we are covering the ISTE Standards for Educators and talking about what those mean to us and how we can exemplify them in our work.
I have also had some great discussions lately about this concept of moving beyond the curriculum to meet the students where they are when they step foot in your classroom (David and I talked about it this week in the podcast) and making sure we utilize our passions for teaching and other interests when we teach. Students can tell when we don’t like what we teach. They can also tell when we know just enough about the topic to teach it, but not enough to do a deep dive with lots of questions. I’ve got an exciting announcement, are you ready?
That’s right. We don’t have to know all the things as teachers. In fact, I would go so far as to say we are better teachers when we don’t know all the things. It helps us stay inquisitive. Taking the right turn in class helps with this as well. In all honesty, I actually love it when a student asks something I don’t know the answer to because I love to invite them along on the journey to find the answer. It’s amazing how much an admission from a teacher about not knowing the answer either can build student confidence. It is also amazing to watch learning become a cooperative and collaborative event instead of always being individualized.
I also really enjoy getting the viewpoints of students about the things I teach. It is so refreshing sometimes to hear the thoughts from people that are new to the information. Quite often, their optimism can be infectious and can renew my love of the topic we are discussing. These right turns can take the class to a new place, much like an unplanned right turn can do on a road trip. What I am finding more and more is that sometimes the new destination is even better than the planned destination. In actuality, as long as learning about the topic is occurring that meets the standards we are looking to address, does it matter if we take a right turn or two along the way?