So, if you’re like me, you may be excited about the slow and steady work that is Explore.Share.Now, and you may be cogitating on other developments and experiences happening at your place of work. “Work” — what a tremendous word, when balanced with “Play” — is the convenience of ourselves in the presence of others for a common goal.
The work of Explore.Share.Now is for students to come to design and implement their own service-learning projects. Those service-learning projects can take many forms. Some are more local while still others are beyond my wild imagination. The big dreams of the students become unconquerable yet insufferable tasks when generated by the innocent hope of a student. How can I help? How can I let them see that success is sometimes measured by “coffee spoons” and not the result of the actual project. How should I presume?
Today’s assignment was for them to come to know each individual’s sentence. That sentence is their call-to-arms. It is the essence of their being. It is their why. My example was, “I must make sure that all my students graduate with high literacy.” I shared haphazardly other examples of students’ sentences such as, “I want to help the victims of the tsunami in Japan,” or “I want to provide health and nutrition education to those in need,” or “I want to build a chat room for teenagers to discuss teenage issues.” The work of Explore.Share.Now is about sustainable learning behaviors. Would I say I succeeded in teaching the students the message of what it means to sustain a learning behavior today?
The progress is slow and diversified. There are some students whose experience with the work of Explore.Share.Now last year is helping/getting in the way of the other students’ self-directed service-learning projects. I must find a way for us to work to together. There are other students who are finding it difficult to understand how the work of building a service-learning project truly works: technique, task, team, time. These four essential elements swirling around like balls of gas. Speaking of gas, I digress.
The work of Explore.Share.Now. is slow and steady. The handouts were left out on tables after school. What data have I collected from this work about the individual’s struggles with this work?
- I need to slow down and give more concrete examples of the work.
- I need to find more opportunities for the students to design-their-learning.
- I need to get the teachers involved in both technical and adaptive ways.
- I need to pick up directly where I left off last time, by first having the students point out where they are with the work.
- I need to point out the differences in Local/Community work and the direct possibility of implementing a program versus an Across-the-seas work and the importance of leading a Seminar/Connection-Workshop.
- I need to remind the students of the work of Explore.Share.Now and how struggle=opportunity.
- I need to give students strategies for getting out-of-the-rut in their project.
These are just a few of the thoughts I am having in reflecting on Explore.Share.Now. In moving forward, I know I will call on the work of my colleagues and the students who have already carried out this work before.
On another note, a bigoted, anti-homosexual comment happened in class this week. The students were building a collaborative running-commentary of our discussion on the poem, “The Second Coming,” by W.H. Auden. From a reader who wishes to state the obvious, it is a religious poem about Revelations, the messiah, and possibly the apocalypse. It is a poem that is not immediately rendered understandable from a cerebral standpoint; it’s fluency and prosody with no set rhythm also matches the feel of the poem. There is nothing to latch onto. The center cannot hold… turning and turning.
Still, the bigoted comment happened. I paused the class when I noticed the comment up on the white screen. The comment was immediately erased and I addressed the student who wrote the comment to see me after class. There is no place for this kind of commentary in class, in the world, as a joke, as an under-handed comment, as a thought, as a language, or as a behavior. The student, the victim, the student’s advisor, and I convened the next day to talk about moving forward from this comment. This kind of comment clearly begets a public apology, not only to the class, but to all students in this school who may be struggling with their sense of self. It imposes a norm that it is okay to make this kind of joke. We spoke about this in the meeting. I wanted to hear what it was that led up to the thought to the hand to appear on the board. I wanted to hear from the student what he remembered from the class leading up to that comment to see if I could pinpoint an exact or estimated cause of the infraction/hate-crime. This was important to know. I do have a strategy for carrying out rehabilitative work:
- Do not immediately react. Ask to speak with the student after class.
- Listen to the student. Ask the student questions about what he remembers leading up to the infraction. You are not here to judge, only to listen to the chronology of thought and action leading to the error.
- State your own story (if present) of what you remember happening leading up to the infraction.
- Do not compare stories. This will only lead to a problem of perception. Keep the focus on the infraction. It happened and there are consequences.
- Find out, of course, if anyone was hurt.
- Include the perpetrator, the victim, and another adult to talk about the issue raised by the infraction, not just on the directed party but on the entire community.
- Include higher-up adults in the workforce if the problem persists.
These things pass; the infraction happened. Onwards and Upwards. We will not forget this infraction happened. Certainly it has been on my mind throughout the week about what I could have done differently to handle the situation.
Lastly, I wish everyone to find love. “Explore with Passion. Create with Love.” This has been my tagline in my emails for the entire year. It reminds me to search… to search for the why… to allow the how to be managed by the why… to let the why sometimes not matter… to create opportunities for the why not to matter… to love every minute of living… to live… to write my living… to write my existence into the record books… to share… to be vulnerable… to be vulnerable in this thing called teaching and learning… to keep watching the moon.