My Great Letting Go

It’s time to let my students go. Since the beginning of the school year, my 12th graders have been asking questions, discovering information, and developing ideas. They researched education and created Education Vision Digital Stories, they read theory and developed insights about media and the mental environment, and they produced media criticism mini-portfolios.

Over the summer I worked with collaborators to create multiple opportunities for my students to do work that will take them beyond classroom and school walls. And now, it’s time for us to make the switch from a unified class studying the same curriculum to a group of individuals pursuing different interests, creating different products on separate schedules. Students will be producing radio pieces for our local NPR station, planning and teaching lessons for middle school classes, and reading books of their own choosing.

The thing is, I’m really scared.

Tomorrow, I’ll be giving up a lot of the power and control that come with running a unified classroom. Tracking student progress is going to be much more complicated. In many ways, we’ll be a lot less like a class and more like a workplace where individuals design projects, pitch them to an outside audience, and create according to the specifications of others. I’ll be facilitating conversations, providing ideas and resources for inspiration, and consulting in order to help students create work that is insightful and polished.

Despite my fears, I’m reassured by my own memories of transformational work. I’m reminded that profound experiences aren’t imposed on students. These experiences are the products of real world experiences, of struggling to find ways to design and create in ways that inspire and affect others.

Let’s hope that my letting go will be a call for students to dive deeply.

2 comments on “My Great Letting Go

  1. This is awesome! Thank you for sharing your story, sir!

    What would you share with other teachers who struggle with the “letting go” aspect of your approach? More specifically, how would you address teachers that have been entrenched in the “old” style of teaching based on hours of Professional Development and college training? Change is scary, and most teachers are already swamped with preparing for standardized tests, filling out reports, not to mention all the other little nuances most people never even know about.

    I look forward to following your journey. This is amazing work you are doing. Stay strong.

    • Thanks so much! Your question is a really good one and points out the all-to-real obstacles that so many teachers face.

      Thanks again for your support.

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