We all want to know when something we have attempted is a success, right? We dream, we toil, we invest, we strive- but we often do not get an explicit confirmation.
But sometimes we do.
Today, my class was discussing agents of socialization, and after two periods of sociology, I thought I knew where the conversation was heading. We would talk about how Kindergarten socializes us to share, keep our hands to ourselves, and "put your hands behind your back and a bubble in your mouth." We would then quickly transition to talk about how school introduces us to peer groups, another agent of socialization, then move on.
But I said something- I cannot remember what- and the students suddenly started talking about my room, the Didactic Cafe. By the time I had to stop the discussion, there were tears in my eyes. Everything I had set out to do in June was being mentioned by my students as to why my class had socialized them to be better students. Some things I had never mentioned to them, some things I had never anticipated could happen. Here are a few things that came up- paraphrased:
-"I don't talk in other classes, because (I get embarrassed). But the low lights make me feel safe to share."
-"Your room smells like coffee, which is so much better than other rooms that smell like leftover lunch."
-" The room is so inviting- it is not like the other rooms that are stark and boring." ( No offense, guys!)
-"I can be stressed out, but I walk into your room and I can instantly feel myself calm down."
-"I'm a hyper person, so it is hard for me to focus. But I can in here, and then when I go to my next class, I focus better." (Did not anticipate that one- AT ALL!!!)
And it was not just the physical design that had connected with them:
-"When we get a right answer, you get so excited and praise us so much."
-"When we get it wrong, you don't put us down, you shift the conversation so we get to the right answer."
-"You let us talk, and we build relationships."
-"I don't think we would be friends in any other class, but in here we are really becoming friends."
-"I feel safe to share things with this class."
I wish I had recorded it. One, because there will be days I need that encouragement! But two, because I want other teachers to hear how much IMPACT classroom culture can have on a student's social emotional learning, and their learning in general. And there is no better way to share that impact, than with student voice.
It was a great day.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, Communication Applications and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team and co-sponsor Student Council. I am an aspiring administrator.