This is what I called the student panel session at #EdcampDetroit. A few weeks ago students at my school asked me about edcamp Detroit and asked if they could go. I wasn't sure at first, but then I thought a student panel could be interesting. I told them to come down and we would see what happens. I couldn't have been happier with the decision. (Note: I have not actually taught any of the students on the panel and nobody from my school was in the audience. This led to a very open and honest discussion about what the students like and did not like.)
There were some great things discussed during the 1 hour session:
I asked the panel what they expect from a teacher when they walk into class on the first day and the overwhelming response was making connections. The kids wanted their teachers to be human and just talk to them. One of the said, "We have the whole year to learn, tell me about your summer." This stood out to me. It is something that I strive very hard to do and I was glad to hear that students value that in a class. They want to see that teachers are human and that they value what happens to their students outside of the classroom.
Kids have an assumption that a teacher will know how to use the technology in their classroom. They said, "If it is standard in every room, the teacher should know how to use it. There is nothing worse than watching a teacher struggle with technology." This says something about teachers and the professional development in my district. I'm sure it is the same in many other districts across the country though. Teachers need to embrace the technology in the classroom. Students have come to expect a certain level of competence and it is our duty to meet that level.
Students love Project Based Learning and what to know how the skills they are learning apply to real life. "Just tell me why I will need Geometry. When will I need it? Give me real life problems." The students were very passionate about this topic. They do not want to sit in class and just take notes day after day. They want a dynamic class that allows them to explore the content area with a purpose. They found value in Project Based Learning.
"I don't learn the same way you learn." Kids were adamant about having teachers try to teach them the way that they learn. They acknowledged that it would be tough to do with every student, but it would mean so much to them if they felt they could learn at their pace or in a style that allowed them keep up and understand the material.
The final question of the session was, "What is the one thing you wish teachers knew about you as a student?" I loved the answers that the kids gave for this one.
"I want to come to school. I want to learn. I want them to engage me." I smiled big time when I heard this. It is the simplest thing a teacher can do. Engage your students. They really do want to be there. They want to learn. The only thing we have to do is engage them. How many students are written off as lazy or problems by some teachers when it really is the teacher to blame for not engaging the students? Our kids are looking to us and we cannot let them down.
"Teach me more than just lessons, I want life lessons." Just another fabulous answer from my fabulous students. They recognize that the role of the teacher is so much more than just getting through the curriculum. They seem to get this better than some teachers. Reach out to the students and be part of their lives. Let them know that you care and it can make a difference. They are expecting it.
I loved this session and the kids were excited afterwards. They asked if they could come back next year and do another session. One student asked if it could be called, "Return of the Babes". :-)
I would like to thank Sam, Megan, Annabel and Tori for giving up part of the Saturday afternoon to take part in edcamp Detroit. They were everything I expect from Grosse Pointe South students. I am very proud of them and can't wait to have them back next year.