Sometimes as teachers, I think that we need to apologize, and tonight I feel the need to do just that. A couple of weeks ago, we had an indoor recess, and I told my students that they could use the iPod Touches, iPads, Nintendo DS’, and Livescribe Pens during the recess time. I only asked that the students that were on the iPod Touches and iPads, not go online.
When our morning indoor recess turned into an afternoon one too, I left these tools out for the students to use again. Just as I was about to leave to have my lunch, I noticed that one student that was using an iPod Touch, went into the camera app. I stopped her right away. I asked her not to use the camera, as I would not be in the classroom during the recess time. Okay, I admit it: I panicked. I started to think of all of the horror stories you hear of students abusing the privilege of taking photographs. In my head, I questioned what this student was going to do, and so, I said, “no.” She happily agreed to choose a new app, and this was the end of the conversation.
Tonight though, I was downloaded some pictures and videos off the iPod Touches, and I came across a collection of some that I didn’t recognize. I then realized that this student must have taken them during the first indoor recess when we hadn’t spoken yet. I watched every one of them. Wow! This student is really engaging in conversations with other students. She’s asking questions, she’s listening to responses, and she’s following them up with new questions.
I immediately thought of a blog post by Carmel Crevola, an amazing educator and leader in oral language instruction. In this post, she challenges teachers not to repeat what students say. She encourages us to dig deeper in our conversations with students. In response to one of the questions in this post, she suggests that students repeat what other students have said if there’s issues with hearing student responses. Carmel really encourages students to respond to what other students are saying. This is the part that really got me thinking.
When this student started videotaping and interviewing other students, she was forced to listen to what her peers said. She had to hear their responses, think about what they said, and decide what she wanted to say next. She had to do what I often need to do as a teacher. For this indoor recess, she was the teacher.
And now I’m sorry that I stopped her during the second indoor recess. I have an EA (Educational Assistant) in the classroom. There was a teacher on duty. She was using my iPod Touch, and all videos were saved on it. I saw everything that she did. So what was I scared of? Why didn’t I trust her to do the right thing?
A few weeks later, I’m now going to say a big, “I’m sorry,” to this student and to any other student to whom I said, “no,” when I should have said, “yes.” You’ve given me a new perspective here. Thank you!
Has this ever happened to you before? How did this impact on future decisions that you made? I’d love to hear your stories too!