Much of the joy in our classroom experiences lives in seeing the excitement on students’ faces as they share their ideas and their lives with us. Our days begin with students hurrying over as they enter our classrooms and tapping on our shoulders with a, “Guess what?!” They love to share, and whether their tidbits are stories of soccer, birthdays, video games beaten, or new learning from their reading the night before, we are missing those little moments of connection with them. Instead, what seems to have taken over our conversations with students are written responses. Many students are moving from subject to subject with an expectation of reading, viewing, or trying followed by a written response or reflection. While I am all for students capturing their thoughts and reflecting on their learning, I’m realizing that the piece that may be missing for many is the spark of conversation.
At home, it became clear that my son, Tommy, was feeling this and missing his teacher. He began feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of writing and a little melancholy about not being able to tell his teacher about his learning. Watching this hurt both my mommy and teacher hearts, so our family decided to put our own spin on a reading choice one day. We allowed him to make a video response to his teacher rather than another written entry. This suggestion brightened his mood immediately. He made some notes for what he wanted to say and then off he went to make his little video. While he was a bit nervous about being on camera at first, he was also excited for his teacher to get his video and ‘see’ him. In his video response, Tommy talked about his connections to a nonfiction article about a young girl who loved cooking and used making kimchi as a way to bring people together and celebrate.
I can imagine that his teacher appreciated seeing a sweet smile rather than getting another entry to read. I know it would bring me joy to be able to open a series of videos from my favorite faces rather than sorting through emails or shared folders that showed a list of documents to read. So maybe we can add a bit of balance and flexibility to how our students share their learning with us. Maybe a mix of video, images, writing, and audio can add some variety and a bit more connection. And maybe we can follow up with a little message back with a smile, hello, and message letting them know we are still interested, and we miss them too.