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When Opportunity Knocks: Project 180, Day 128

Had some visitors yesterday. With EWU on spring break this week, some of my students from my education class last quarter asked if they could come in and observe. Of course, I enthusiastically consented. We set a date, and I told them that I would see them then. On Sunday, looking ahead to Tuesday, the day of their visit, I discovered an opportunity. All three visitors, Lauren, Ashley, and Matt, are English majors, so I decided to present a plan to make the observers participants.

Tuesdays are writing days. At present, kids are working through their speeches, and we are to the point in the process where kids need feedback. So, the plan was to conference with kids. My three Eastern kids would see me doing some of my most important work. And that was good. But then I thought, “good” could be better. I will have three additional sets of eyes and ears in the room–English major eyes and ears, so why not put them to work? Why not let them conference with kids? And “why not” turned to will. They will conference with the kids. They did conference with the kids.

We divided the kids among us, and set to engaging them in conversations about their speeches. But before the call for action, I set the stage.

Learning Target: I can engage in a meaningful conversation about my writing.

Indicators of an “engaged conversation.”

  • Time goes by quickly
  • Lots of talking
  • Laughter and animation
  • Clarifying questions–from both sides
  • Focus on SOAPSTone
  • Organic elements

I, then, ¬†addressed the elephant in the room, asking the kids what the biggest challenge to our having engaged conversations would be, and they quickly pointed to the fact that they didn’t know my college students. So, we acknowledged that that might get in the way a bit. I also told them that we would debrief at the end, reflecting on and evaluating the experience.

And then we got under way. For a solid 40 minutes there was a productive buzz in the room, the noise of engagement. It was music. At the end, this was affirmed as both high school and college kids offered their critiques of the experience, pointing to the “indicators” as evidence. Importantly, we were all a little surprised at how “easy” the conversations were, how real the conversations were. Many remarked that the conversations did not feel contrived or artificial; they felt natural, comfortable. Turned out to be a great experience for all. My high school kids all got feedback. My college kids all got an invaluable experience. And I got some much needed help. Makes me wish I had extra eyes and ears all the time.

Happy Wednesday, all.

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