Ironically enough, the last blog post for this challenge has arrived at the same time that everyone is busy in every part of their lives: school, work, all of the grading, frantically getting ready for winter, holiday planning, doctor’s visits, “fall” cleaning, did I mention frantically getting ready for winter?
As a city kid from Detroit, I’ve been preparing myself–mentally, emotionally, physically–for the craziness that is named winter up here in northern Michigan. What I did not prepare for, however, was the extent to which my knowledge of the winter would impact my teaching.
I was warned that, come November, students would engage evasive maneuvers. And that warning has manifested as true. Yes, some of my students love the winter and are excited about the snow on the ground. (Others have decided that snow means 8 AM classes have been discontinued.) They’re also prioritizing winter activities over their schooling. As hunting season begins, so do the absences increase. But, as I’m learning from living here, is it really an either-or decision?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that when students and I remain honest about our priorities, we can compromise. Knowing that several of my students will be out this week, I’ve decided to adapt the classroom rather than continue with my initial plan which ignores, even negates, the students’ lives outside of school. I don’t believe that the classroom is sacred, nor do I advocate for my subject matter to be the most important thing in my students’ lives. On the other hand, I don’t believe that I’m here to bend over backwards for students, ignoring and negating my own life. Though not said so explicitly, my students and I have made that clear to each other. And, because of that understanding, teacher and students remain humans who have lives beyond the classroom, who have interests they discuss beyond subject matter, and who talk about that. I want to remind students that teachers are humans, too, and one of the most effective ways to do so, I’ve found, is to humanize them first.
So when I asked them to produce writing faster in order to cancel classroom meetings for conferences to accommodate for those who “won’t make it to class [to]day,” they said, “Sure, we can do that.” And they sure did.
Compromise. It works.