Friday, August 31, 2007

Creating the culture

Last year, I felt that a culture of learning developed over the first three weeks in my A.P. government classes. I had two classes of 36 and 38 and, for the most part, the "What do you believe?" discussions helped lead to a class culture of participation and analysis where we felt comfortable asking the next question, opening new other words, we were students.

So how do I feel today? I have 4 classes, none as big as last year. I thought this would make this easier to accomplish this year. And I feel half right. Two sections are there - willing to share, listening as well as talking, taking arguments to new areas, allowing me to explain when they are unsure. One is close. And one section isn't in the ballpark. A student from that class approached about changing sections as she feels it, too. The culture is instead one of "Nothing said by others has any relevance to me." Some of this is ceretainly led by two girls who seemingly have no interest in anything but their personal discussions and lives. This, like a cold, has spread to neighbors. I know that I am supposed to recognize the multitasking abilities of our students. But this class isn't going to "see the gorilla." Not unless I allow them to leave class and go to the zoo! It is early and I realize I'm close to 75% success at building the culture. But seeing what their peers are capable of doing, it still frustrates me. Guess it is time to find a new tactic.


Blogger Karl Fisch said...

Is there a way to share with that one class what the other classes are doing more successfully? Or even just sharing this post with them? I know that probably won't turn it around in and of itself, but it might be a start.

Also, with four sections of AP, I'm assuming you have more total students than last year. While I think that's a good thing overall, there are probably going to be growing pains. So, celebrate the success in two and a half classes, and challenge the others to step up.

Rome wasn't built in a day (sorry), constructing a new learning environment for students that aren't used to it is going to take some time as well.

8:05 PM  

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