Most middle and high school students move from class to class for their subject areas. Grant Wiggins revealed a post from his blog about a teacher who spent two days shadowing a student. Wiggins later sent it to the Washington Post because of the amount of comments it received. The author wrote about three key takeaways as she travelled to each of the classes:
Key Takeaway #1
Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting.
Key Takeaway #2
High school students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90 percent of their classes.
Key takeaway #3
You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long.
Primarily the author focused on the length of time students sat in each class and the expectation of teachers for their students to be “quiet.”
However an aspect I think that needs to be address is the teaching and learning that is going on in each of the classes. It would be very interesting to see the quality of instruction in schools where there is little or no collaboration between teachers. Looking through the eyes and listening with the ears of students that travel from class to class in schools where teachers are not collaborating is an observation that needs to be conducted.
My key takeaway
Collaboration needs to happen between the teachers.
More emphasis needs to be placed on the quality of learning for our students. We need to think of ways our students can make meaning of their subjects. Students should know that their learning in ELA classes will deepen their learning of various literary genres but also their learning will strengthen their knowledge and skills for reading and writing in social studies, science, math and other subject areas.
A possibility of collaboration
If a research project is expected in a social studies class, the ELA teacher should conduct lessons on organization and composition of a research paper, the library media specialist should give lessons on researching skills, and authenticating online resources. To extend further, maybe the ELA teacher and librarian should read the research papers along with the social studies teacher. All teachers will get a better understanding of their students and maybe the quality of instructional practices will be sharpen. With this type of collaboration maybe – just maybe students will make the connection- and come out with a quality research paper.
You cannot take for granted that middle school students who just come from self contained elementary classes for all their primary subjects knows how to make connections in their now separated classes. Maybe this could be a variable that needs to be looked at as to why middle school scores begin to fall in the middle school years.
If we are really want to walk in the shoes of students, let our eyes and ears really take in all that is happening and be willing to have the hard discussion with each other.