Within these last two months of the school year, I can see the anxiety in both students and teachers. With this said however, the class remains grounded quite well and focusing on their work just as much as ever. Now that the eighth grade class is reading Persepolis, I can start forming my chapter discussions for them.
As I was in the eighth grade class, we were going over two chapters in the book and discussing the overall theme and plot of the story so far. This is what it seemed it would be throughout the whole class, but there was a sudden change. One question opened up a momentous window for a conversation. They were originally talking about free speech rights in Iraq, and then it led to a conversation about political beliefs at home, what influences young minds and their opinions and even the idea of indoctrination in schools. I was amazed at the level in complexity in these students and how they reacted to each other in a professional manner.
With all this happening, the teacher was able to center the class back to its original discussion about the book. Even then, they were able to understand the story nearly perfectly. I saw how the teacher knew that this was straying from the lesson plan, but yet they did not neglect the opportunity to allow them to speak their minds and to help advance their critical thinking skills with each other.
I am currently reading a book called Drive, and it is about how to enhance a students motivational skills, and deciding whether to focus more on rewarding effort or completion of the task. I am not finished with the reading, so there is still much to learn.
Coming this week, I will be meeting with the lower school principal to find times when I can visit fourth and fifth grade to wrap up my experience of seeing different class rooms ranging from middle to lower school.