Thursday, August 23, 2012

Today I Lectured My Class

Jon Becker asked me to write down some of the things I talked to my students about today. The lecture was off the cuff so I don't have a real record of what I said, but I am hoping to write here a reflection of the spirit if not the actual words of what I said.

Class, we have talked about the behavior you have exhibited in the hallway already this week. I have explained to you why we have to follow the school expectations for the hallway. I don't require you to do anything that I don't think is important for learning. I have told you that several times.

When we are in the hallway we have three expectations: don't touch the walls, walk in a single file, and be quiet. Notice I didn't say 'don't talk'. I don't mind if you say something to the person in front of you as long as it is quiet.

Why are we supposed to be quiet in the hallway? We aren't learning anything there. We use the hallways to get from here to where we are going, not because it is a learning experience. We need to be quiet in the hallway because when we are loud we keep other students in the other classrooms from learning. When we are part of a community we have to choose to put our wants and desires behind the needs of the community. We aren't affecting our learning by being quiet in the hallway, we aren't there to learn. We do affect other's learning when we are noisy though. We need to put our wants behind their needs.

Touching the walls may not seem like a big deal, but if you knock something off the wall it will be a big deal. I have seen students do that many times and the teachers that put things up in the hall are not very nice to students that tear them up or knock them down. I don't want you to experience a mad teacher yelling at you in the hallway in front of other students and I hope you don't want that experience either.

Why do I expect you to walk in a single file line? There isn't always someone coming down the hallway that you are blocking. It isn't because the hallway isn't wide enough either. It is simply because when you walk side by side you want to talk. I want to take away that temptation. I don't want you to inhibit other students learning because you can't wait the few minutes it takes to get back to the classroom to talk.

Now let's talk about your behavior here. You have been given a lot of freedom that other students here do not have. When it is 'your time' you can move to where you want, sit by whom you want, and spend your time doing what you see fit. I even give you the freedom to not do the work if you choose, as long as you are not keeping others from learning too. You, in my opinion, have the right to not do the work. You have the right to be as dumb as you want to be, but you don't have the right to make others dumb too. You have a lot of freedom here.

The problem with freedom is you have to remember you are part of a community. You need to realize that what you do affects others. You need to be responsible. What happens when everybody decides they don't want to follow the expectations of the community? We get chaos. When everybody does whatever they want to things get out of control. Unfortunately, when we can't control ourselves others have to step in and do that. I don't want to be that person. I don't want to be your jailor. I want you to put the community in front of your wants.

I realize you have not had this much freedom before. Unfortunately, if you don't learn how control yourselves the freedom can and will go away. I know you are good kids. I know you don't want me to be the kind of teacher that makes you sit in rows and won't let you talk. I know you want to do what is right, so let's start doing it now.

I am actually pretty surprised at how easily it came back to me. I don't think this is everything I said to the class, but it is probably 85-90% all here. I also want to point out that I actually did use the words expectations and community with my students. I didn't dress up the pig, he is wearing his original clothes :)

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