Friday, June 13, 2014

Am I a Failure? #edchat

Today is the last day of school. I've packed up my things and I've entered all of my grades. I watched an amazing group of students graduate yesterday and I'm sitting at my desk wondering whether or not this year was a success.

I took the time to read all of my student reflection pieces on my class and 20 Time. There were plenty of kids that told me how much they loved the class and how blogging actually helped them become better writers. Others said 20 Time helped them find what mattered to them and they think all students should have do 20 Time at some points. They offered great suggestions to fine tune 20 Time for future students and wanted to see it continue. These comments were very nice and they made me smile. However, they were not all positive.

There were students that were very honest about how much they did not like 20 Time. They thought that the entire project was nice in theory, but just a tremendous waste of time. They would have rather spent their time doing more reading, analysis and other literature related lessons to better prepare them for their AP Lang class next year. A couple even said they felt unprepared for next year. These comments shook me to the core.

I strive to make sure that I reach every student and that every single one of them feel like they are in an environment that supports them in learning. For me, 20 Time was the best project for that because it gave the students the power to control what they wanted to explore. How could I fail at giving students the choice to explore their interests? In implementing 20 Time I had to make cuts in the curriculum. I trimmed fat that was not required and cut out assignments that I felt were nice, but redundant. By doing this, did I hurt my students for next year?

I understand that the perfect lesson is my white whale. In a group of 90, is it acceptable to have 15 that did not like the lesson at all be the deciding factor as to whether or not I bring a lesson back? How valuable is student feedback? I know it is important, but how much weight should it have in making decisions like this?

Some will tell me that 20 Time was a huge success and hosting a TEDx event is a great accomplishment. I'm very proud of TEDxGPSHS and the work my students did for 20 Time, but it bothers me to think that there are students that left my class feeling like I did not do my job. Maybe I need some more time removed from these year defining events and think more about what 20 Time, not only meant for my students, but meant for me. I'm just left with one question that will keep me busy this summer,

By not reaching all of my students, am I a failure?

Here is one thing that made me feel like a winner. 

This is a present from a graduating student. She made this as a thank you for being supportive of her art and her academic pursuits during her time at school.