Listen, then, if you have ears…

I used to argue with my pre-service teachers about a book I used for many years. C’mon, now, of course it’s important to listen to your students…you really need a whole book about it?

I was thinking about those conversations today as I wandered around our building watching kids work on various projects. Their comments to each other, to me, to the air, all reflected the kind of culture we’re trying to build at the Workshop. It’s not perfect – no real school ever is – but I’m hearing things that tell me we’re on the right track. Here are three from the past twenty-four hours:

“For once, can’t we just have majority vote?”
“you don’t really understand things unless you DO them…”
“approach it like a scientist, not just sitting there passively.”
“who wants to read my paper?”

The same thing happens with student writing. If you build on their strengths and push them to write in ways that matter – we have a five part opening project to help them assess their own academic and personal strengths, resources, and areas of need – then you’ll read some astonishing things. After I read this quote, I said to the student that I’m not a tattoo guy, but if I was I’d put into my arm for daily inspiration:

“I learn so much during the day that by night I sometimes feel like a different person.”

I want to know this person. I want to view the world through these eyes. And I want to see what the seventeen-year-old who wrote these words can accomplish.