What do my students need from me?

I have spent the last few weeks at suppers sitting with teachers/staff and talking to them about creativity – I’ve been researching a lot about creativity, creative endeavours and students academic success tied to creativity as part of some personal goals and really wanted to tie this into my #cohort21 goals for this year. In talking with students, and teachers, they all feel that we are able to be quite creative here, they feel supported in taking risks, trying new things and really, they do not feel that creativity is lacking as you walk around our campus.

After feeling like the helium was let out of my balloon, I started to think about what my students really need from me. They need lots of things like love and kindness, guidance and support, and occasionally a good dose of reality. In the past few weeks, I have had students email me about things that I really expect that middle school students should be able to take care of on their own: missing items, forgotten items, missed deadlines because I did not send a reminder email (i.e. they didn’t check their portal, or write things down in their agenda).  It got me thinking – what they need from me in addition to love and guidance is resilience.

Resilience as I see it is the ability to accept constructive criticism and grow from it, manage yourself, your belongings and your deadlines, as well as learn how to agree and disagree with others in a way that is civil. I’m still formulating what this might look like for my students in a practical sense, as we already are involved in some growth mindset initiatives that I put in place at the start of the year – although I often find these are set aside when push comes to shove in the world of balancing all the commitments. Perhaps conversations around the growth mindset and resilience need to play a bigger part in my advisory group, or perhaps I need to change my teaching so that the idea of resilience is more at the forefront.

Maybe my project does not involve teaching resilience as a skill but instead giving me the opportunity to teach with more emphasis on how to give and receive constructive feedback. It is a skill that I find students in middle school struggle with as they always want to give their peers top marks, which in the end does nothing to help either student learn more about their own, and others, learning processes.

Maybe #cohort21 will help me look at teaching skills to manage to have classroom discussions in a polite and civilized way? I feel like my students could use some help on how to agree to disagree in class, how to support their ideas with evidence from a source and how to really incorporate science into their opinions (i.e. on the environment and ethics).

Maybe the project I look at with #chort21 is a one on teaching students, and myself, how to make a decision and go with it?  Where ever my project takes me over the next few days, I know I am going to learn and be challenged and in the end be a much better educator for having taken the time to reflect.


6 thoughts on “What do my students need from me?

  1. Hi Mary,

    I think you are on to something. Students definitely require the ability to cope, learn and recover from adversity. In many ways, by promoting resiliency you are teaching social and emotional well being. (Another superpower that teachers posses)

    FAIL is First Attempt in Learning. Learning from failure can help student view opportunities that they may not know existed.

    Looking forward to seeing you in person pon Saturday.

  2. @mwilcox,

    I love the path of your own creative thinking here. How through conversation with colleagues and empathizing with your students you were able to determine a true need, that of resilience. I believe you have come to the right place with Cohort21! Many past projects have dealt directly with growth mindsets and resilience and this treasure trove of resources and contacts is now yours for the sharing and stealing. Way to find your inner innovator!

    • @edaigle this is exciting news. Here’s hoping the plane takes off tonight. A few flights have already been cancelled today, but so far, none to Toronto.
      I’m looking forward to the collaborations that are to be had on Saturday.

  3. @mwilcox, I too have been thinking a lot about resiliency recently, and I think you’re right to begin with the culture you foster through your teaching. Students often seem to have a default mode – maybe involving a device, maybe a head on a desk – that they’re desperate to return to no matter the task. Therefore the objective is rarely the learning itself, it’s the completion of the task. Worse is giving up before even trying. So then, how might we better inspire/empower students beyond their perceived limitations to experience the excitement of authentic learning? I love what you said, teaching “how to make a decision and go with it”. And I love the wisdom of @ashaikh, that fail is merely the first attempt in learning.
    I’m really excited to see where the design process on Saturday takes this.

    @acampbellrogers @mneale

  4. @mwilcox Thank you for this post! I really appreciate the way you dive in to a ‘stream of consciousness’ style blog … educators constantly have these questions in the hamster wheel of our minds and I think it’s a great start to just get all these questions out there. I see a common thread here between your post and @wdarby ‘s … though the context is totally different, I wonder if we aren’t in a time when there is a bit of harkening back to basics. I wonder about approaching your questions with the exploration of intentional practice – what do thinking routines that explicitly teach ‘resilience’ look like? How can we as educators model that in our daily approaches to teaching and learning? I look forward to meeting you tomorrow – fingers crossed for your flight getting off the ground from St John!

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