I am a huge advocate of teachers just sitting and talking with kids without an agenda. Yes, most teachers would tell you that it important to understand what is going on inside a kids head to better meet their academic needs. What I usually find…and please correct me if I am wrong…is that most of the time the teachers assume they know what kids are thinking and going through and they bring their assumptions to their lesson plans.
Assumptions are not good enough.
What percentage of time do you think you should commit to getting to know your kids as people, and not as academic beings?
For most teachers, if they sat in the back of my room they would probably say that I spend too much time talking with the kids. I decided to run the numbers and I would guesstimate that I spend 12% of our time together “talking” before we start “working.” I wish I could spend more without feeling guilty about it. I know from my own empirical evidence that I get more out of the kids each class if we talk first.
At the end of last year I recorded a conversation with ex-students who were graduating from high school(I teach 8th grade), and this year I had the opportunity to turn the microphones around on our podcast team and interview several members. If you often talk with your kids their answers might be interesting to you, but probably not surprising. I am going to list the questions below and it would be interesting to have people write down what they think the kids would say…what they assume the kids would say before listening. I have included the audio of the 20 minute interview below the questions, or you can visit their website. Please take a listen!
1. What is the most important thing we have ever learned in school?
2. How did you acquire the “shell” many of you are trying to break out of?
3. Who has been the most influential adult in your life?
4. What is one thing that we could teach adults?
5. What are the struggles that kids experience that adults don’t understand?
6. If schools were voluntary would you attend?
7. What skills and abilities do teachers need in the 21st Century?
8. What advice do we have for teachers and parents?