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Carry: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday and welcome to the latest edition of Five Minute Friday‘s link-up. Each week bloggers around the world use the same prompt to inspire short pieces that they spent five minutes crafting. For years, this community of writers has been a great inspiration to me and supported my blog and business. I love showing up to share pieces and read posts from my FMF friends.

This week the prompt is: Carry.

Educators are in the midst of a discipline upheaval. Even the most seasoned teachers are experiencing a lack of respect and discipline from students in their classrooms. Teachers around the world are leaving the profession at disturbing rates and many blame the pandemic of student apathy for ending their careers.

Like all educators, I have faced some of these problems this school year. I have outrageous stories about the actions and words of students in my school that I would never share on the internet. Most days I find myself disheartened by the way in which students disregard their own learning and expect the teachers to cater to their needs and desires.

While many are tempted to blame the blatant lack of appropriate social skills, I believe that the issue facing students in 2021-2022 is of a different origin. Sure, the pandemic hasn’t helped. But in my humble opinion, we are teaching students who are carrying more than any other student population of the past. And this calls for a shift in our mindsets as teachers.

There have always been students living in poverty, unsafe homes, and states of mental health crises. But what the students of today carry that is exclusive to this crew is the collective experience of the past two years.

They have grown up in a world where the grown-ups have set poor examples on self-control and peacefulness.

They have traded much of the primes of their adolescence for a world of fear and apathy. Life has been uncertain for most of the days that their memory serves.

As adults, we are equipped with the ability to perservere and we remember a world before all of the disruptions. These students have no True North to which to look when they need to remember that these struggles are temporary.

Instead of finding myself burnt out like so many other educators, I am looking for ways to help students to carry these loads. I find that when I try to ask about the issues they shoulder and give them voice in the classroom then many of the discipline issues subside. Being reactive is no longer an acceptable role of a classroom teacher. We must meet our students and give them space to let down the loads that they bear in order to rest. We must help them learn to carry the loads that show no sign of disappearing anytime soon.

As much as we long for our controlled environments before the pandemic, we have to admit that those days are behind us. We will never again live in a world that Covid-19 did not touch. So instead of trying to run things the way we always have, we must remember that the goals of teaching have shifted. Before we can teach a student to read, we have to build their strength as individuals so that they can continue to carry those things that weigh heaviest on their shoulders.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Teaching

Honorable Debate

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It’s been some time since I’ve written about what is going on in Mrs. Sisley’s classroom. So in case you were wondering the year is off to a great start and I’m excited to share a little bit. Currently, I am teaching six classes. In the mornings I have three English 9 classes one of which is an Inclusion class. During the afternoons I teach three Honors World History classes. This is the first school year that an Honors History course has been offered since I’ve been working in my district and I’m thrilled to get the privilege of teaching this course.

The first few weeks have been spent getting their feet wet and providing opportunities for my students to discover my expectations. In English so far we’ve written one essay, read two short stories, and each student has now completed two of their Nine in 9th Independent Reading books. Next week we will be presenting book #2. (For more information on my Nine in 9th reading program check out my post Nine in 9th)

In history we have familiarized ourselves with GoogleDocs and the submission process through several assignments. They have completed the first of nine Current Event projects, written an article about the construction of the Palace of Versailles and taken their first test over the Age of Absolutism. I’ve been really pleased with my honors students and their drive to meet the high expectations that I have set for them. I’ve asked for quite a lot to be done in the first month of school, but for the most part they have risen to the challenge.

This week I am braving new territory and assigning my first ever debate in my Honors World History classes. We are currently learning about the Enlightenment and the impact that this time period and its thinkers have had on our world. I have chosen to center a debate around the ideas that we are learning in class. I’ve also researched many different debate methods and have chosen to use a Team Policy Debate format since this is their first formal debate.

The students will be assigned to a partner and position. Their goal will be to argue for or against a specific idea that came out of the Enlightenment. I have modified the time restraints for the Team Policy Debate for this first debate to last only twenty-four minutes (essentially halving the time allotted for each segment.) I’m a little nervous that debates could become chaotic, but sticking to a format should help with keeping things professional and moving at a quick pace. I’m also allowing the students to use pre-made note cards to direct their points in order to promote research and use of data to inform dialogue as opposed to feelings and thoughts of the students alone.

The purpose of this activity is to give the students an opportunity to perform research and put into the practice the principles that we are learning about in this unit. I have three classes of highly intelligent and opinionated people that make me eager to try this activity.

If you are a teacher and have used debates in your classroom I’d love to hear from you! What went well? What was a challenge? And any other advice you may have.

I love my job, my students, and my calling!