#sol17- August 29, 2017
I don’t know about you, but I swear I get some of my best ideas while in the shower. Just before this school year started I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do about class jobs. I have gone back and forth over the years between assigning jobs and not. I made myself a list of jobs that would help me and the class- not just “everyone has a job” jobs. I decided to try out no jobs, but after a day or two of me having to do lots of tidying after the students left that idea seemed not to work for this year’s crew. I had 18 students, and in looking over my job list I just about had that number of jobs that might be needed. Then I thought about other things the students could do- I like to grow student empowerment, so want them to feel it is our class, not my class. In the shower that morning I was thinking about the tours that were already starting to come through- families being led around by someone from the admissions office. When I am not teaching I am always happy to talk to these groups, but, not surprisingly, I am often teaching and I feel bad that I do not even have a moment to chat, even though we are always told to continue on as usual. That’s when it came to me- the students could do that job.
The next day when I introduced jobs we quickly talked about the expectations for each job, many were self-explanatory. “Class ambassador” was a new job to them, but one of my students knew very well what an ambassador is, as his mom is an ambassador. We talked briefly about what it would mean in our context: someone to greet and welcome visitors and tell them a bit about the class and what we are doing, and then answer any questions.
As luck would have it one of my students newer to English chose the job that first week. During her time in office, she got to welcome two sets of visitors and the woman from admissions was amazed. She talked to me briefly about how impressive it was to have a student approach them and speak confidently. When I shared this with the girl’s parents at Open House that night they could not believe that this was their daughter. Last week it was a new ambassador’s turn. This young man is new to the school, but when the director of admissions came in with a family while I was teaching math I signaled him and he went off to chat. After that visit, the kind director of admissions wrote a sweet email to our school director and the ES principal and assistant principal sharing her experience with this ambassador (it turns out the family was considering moving their child from another school in town and this may have helped them make the move- she starts soon). The director and principal then wrote about it in their faculty newsletters. While I appreciated the kind words, as I told them (and later told the class) this was not down to me at all, rather these amazing students who took my “shower idea” and made it their own.
After I shared the positive feedback with the class we generated a list of ideas to consider when they are the ambassador. “Be brave” was the first idea shared. This week’s ambassador is feeling nervous in case he gets to welcome a visitor, but he is also grateful that his week is a short one (we have a Thursday/Friday holiday). On the way down to the canteen yesterday one of my shyer students confided, “I can’t wait until it is my turn to be the ambassador.”
In reflecting on this I am reminded again that students will rise to challenges and that they all need opportunities to be leaders. Last week’s ambassador said that just before he asked if they had any questions he told them a few things that he thought made our class special. I think the thing that makes our class the most special is the kids (and the fabulous community we are already developing). Have I mentioned that I love my new class?
***Zhi Hong, a student from last year is still slicing.