I am beginning my classes this year with an Identity Day. Something like George Couros blogged about last June. I am doing this with all of my classes (3rd – 8th grade). I have found that my students love to talk about everything except for themselves. I sat with my 8th graders this morning and we began to go through some ideas that they would to share with others about themselves. They were not confident in the things they wanted to share. My two girls in my 8th grade class are very athletic. They play multiple sports. So I suggested they share their favorite sport. One thought that was a good idea. So she is beginning that. The other we are still working on a possible theme for her.
From the conversations I have had this week with my students I have come to the conclusion they are afraid to show who they really are. As if it is something that they want to hide. Their confidence in themselves is so limited. How do I get passed that? How do I foster self-confidence? How can I get them to see that they are special, smart, creative students who should be proud of who they are and what they can do in and out of the classroom?
The other aspect of this project is being creative on they way they want to display their poster. I gave them all a large white poster board and said, “here is your canvas. Let’s be creative! Your poster, should be in the style that reflects who you are.” I showed them the website of Mr. Couros and showed them what his students have done as an example. I think it helped, but I don’t know if it sank in or not. I guess I will only see as we progress through the project.
Continuing on the theme of creativity, I have found this week that my students are not into stepping out and taking a chance on making their poster look different from others. They want to blend in. How can I get my students to see that its ok to be different? I know that it is linked to self-confidence. Is it also linked to the fact that I work in an urban district where your image on the street prevails, and its safer to blend in than to stand out? I don’t know. I am open to suggestions and comments. This is something that I worry about with my students. I know in the future they will all to apply for college and these days with admissions as competitive as they are I am afraid they won’t stand out. Even though I know they will have the grades and the fortitude to be successful at college they may not get in to where they may really want to go because of the street mentality of blending in.
I began this year to play some Beethoven, Motzart, and Bach movements, concertos and symphonies to help bring in that sense of creativity. The room just seems to be filled with this lightly playing music. My students really like it. I figured that if you can play this type of music for infants when they are in the womb of a mother and it helps with brain development why not play it in my classroom.
To end, if you have any insights into my questions, please feel free to enlighten me. I really want to push my students and to challenge them not just the time that they are in my class, but for a lifetime.