Day 122, Monday, April 13, 2009
During a lesson on vocabulary this morning, the teacher’s assistant (a scholar who helps me conduct the lesson) asked the kids to work in pairs on some word exercises in the book, and, as I watched, I was impressed with how well the scholars collaborated. A spirit of teamwork was evident around the room. I heard some scattered laughter and a burst of silliness now and then, but generally, the students seemed serious about helping each other reach the assigned goal. For the most part, their heads were bent together, trying their best to discover the answers. They were a collection of partnerships devoted to a common task, a group of teams toiling together in a spirit of friendship and responsibility. It was good for me to see this. I was glad I was able to sit back and actually notice how well kids can learn when they are relaxed and happy together. My classes tend to be teacher-centered rather than student-centered, but it was helpful to see the possibilities in allowing the kids to run their own discussions and formulate their own approaches to an activity. It gave me a new and more expansive glimpse of this far-flung enterprise called “teaching teenagers”.