Today was the first day my students got to celebrate their progress towards or completion of the goals they set out at the beginning of the semester. These goals were written on Starbucks cups, and I have kept them in a cabinet all semester.
The students got their coffee, and found their seats around the room. One by one, they shared thier goal- for the first time- with the rest of the class. Some goals were met, some had changed, some were completely forgotten. Some had come more true than students had thought possible. One shared their goal had been to make 4 new friends this year- to which one classmate responded- "And you got ALL of us!"
This is why I shared this today.
My goal, as seen on the cup at the top, was to create a coffee house class.
I got so much more.
My goal was about a physical class space, but what happened was a culture shift. I realized it was happening early in the year, but I thought it might just be me. Today, as students said goodbye (we did this a week earlier than planned because one student is moving this weekend) they made comments that struck me. Deeply.
Students expressed that they truly know each other in this class- that there is a real connection. That this class allowed them to see and appreciate different perspectives. That they could respect different opinions. One student said that because I had taken the chance to try this classroom experiment, they saw teachers differently. They saw what school could be.
I have always said I wanted to teach to make a difference, to do something that matters. I have seen glimpses of this coming true over the last few years- spots here and there.
Today was different.
It was not a lesson, or a joke, or personality trait I had. Today it was an idea that I took a risk on. And it was culture and climate and relationships and perspectives all rolled into one. It was not about them liking me as a teacher because I am fun or nice or even qualified.
Today was about celebrating a way of teaching that instantly makes lessons relevant and real. It was about seeing that student voice is more than about politics or opinions or even inquiry.
It is about building connections and relationships- which change the way we do all those things above.
One student said at the close of class- "I have never seen a teacher that cares more about what students think than you."