Even though I'm on holidays I have not stopped teaching, perish the thought. I have been teaching my 16 year old son to drive. Well not really, I have been sitting in the passenger seat while he drives us to wherever he wants to go. He has had his Learners Permit for 6 months now and this morning as he was at a T intersection wanting to turn right (please do the adjustments if you are in a country that drives on the wrong side of the road), he paused then pulled out safely, while mentioning a car coming towards us from some way down the street. He said "Six months ago I would have given way to that car." I responded by commending his improved judgement. He reflected that all the practice he had had definitely led to improved judgements in all aspects of driving. I was so happy that he had recognised this and could articulate it.
At the same time there was a program on the radio in which the host was interviewing a teacher about how he had become a better teacher of creative writing. It was in the encouragement, he said. He only ever pointed out the good bits in the writing, while making one suggestion for improvement. "That paragraph is great," he would say, "and the second one is fantastic. How can you make a good transition between them?", rather than "your paragraph transitions stink." Well, duh. But it led to a discussion on how my son perceived his teachers, in particular his teacher of Literature. His teacher explained everything really well he said. He didn't assume too much knowledge on the part of the students initially. It made me think, as it is a bit different from the approach I take, where I am looking for much more student input. But it is probably all in the balance.
It's really good to have a 16 year old at home as this is the age of the majority of the students who are even now preparing (or not) to go back to school and be in my classes. But Kieran is preparing for school. He was going to pick up his school text books this morning and to dive into them fully a week before he has to. And he is not coming back to school after having had his brain in neutral for six week. He has been online every day, but not all day. He has been communicating online in his forums and while playing his games. He often tells me that the etiquette in the forums he participates in is to write in a grammatically correct way. We have been discussing his gaming and whether they foster creativity or not. I have even learned a new term from him: linear and non linear games. He expects school to be different to the way he admits he learns while on holidays. He expects to be quiet in class while discussion happens one at a time and in a teacher directed way. He doesn't expect to be using technology to learn. He tells me that he respects authoritarian teachers and works more cooperatively with them, and pointing out (having never seen me in class) that I am probably too soft to to be an effective teacher. I don't know.
But it has really made me think about the students that I will have in my classroom in only two weeks from now, how they will have been filling their time while on holidays and what their expectations are of me. How will I be able to help my students learn in a way that meets their needs and uses the skills, abilities and creativity that they bring to class from their out of school life?