Project 180 has been transformational for me as an instructor in a number of ways. Perhaps among the most important transformations has been my stepping off the stage. I am no longer the star, and this has been hard for me, for I like the spotlight. I like being up front. I like talking. I really like talking. But that has changed, and what’s interesting is that it was not an intentional move on my part. It just happened. And now that I have learned to talk less, I have learned to listen more in my supporting role. The kids now have the stage, but their new roles have taken some time, some adjustment. And yesterday, was no easy adjustment. For the first time this year, I put them in teams. Up to now, they have had choice in where they have sat and with whom they have worked. Understandably, they have chosen their comfort. Yesterday, I stole some of that comfort.
Wednesdays for quarter three are grammar days. Though I have some reservations about teaching grammar in isolation, the reality for most of these kids requires a steady foundational knowledge of grammar for upcoming challenges: SBA, SAT/ACT, AP, and beyond. So, I feel I have an obligation to help them establish and build upon this foundation. In truth, it’s not quite as “isolated” as the name and approach may suggest, for there is practical and purposeful application to their writing. I like to think of it as grammar in repetition, giving the kids consistent opportunities to learn and practice. And that is why I have designated a day. And on that day, stemming from a belief that we can learn best with and from each other, I have placed kids in what I am calling Grammar Groups. And this was not comfortable.
Of course, I did not do it to torture them. I did it to stretch them beyond their comfort zones, to stretch them into situations that will no doubt reflect “real-world” work, where we do not always get to choose whom we work with. And though it was awkward and uncomfortable for some, they survived, and they will continue to survive. The graphic above reflects what I believe to be the ideal goal for a community of learners, and while we have a long way to go to get even close, I believe it is a goal worth chasing. And so we will. Together.
Happy Thursday, all. Ninety days. Half way there. Crazy.