Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#8.. A Wall of Traditions

LIKE:
So many of my posts this week are about how we do things at the gymnasium because it is the last week of school and I am one of those teachers who has students who are graduating and moving on to bigger things.....

My "like" today is a very unique part of the Danish educational system and it is one to which I think other countries should pay attention and attempt to replicate. It is QUITE common in Denmark that a teacher has her students for multiple years. We see this at both the primary and secondary levels. At our level, this means that a teacher receives her gymnasium students as first year students (typically 16-17 years old) and then after three years together, she watches them graduate as young men and women.  When they leave our school, we hang their class pictures on the walls so that we can remember each of those that walked our hallways over the years.....
Of course it makes sense ACADEMICALLY for students and teachers to stay together for multiple years because it ensures that YOU KNOW YOUR STUDENTS' academic levels and you build on those throughout your time together. No time is wasted getting to know a new class each year....instead you just jump right in when they come back for year 2 and year 3. It also means that students can see the relevance of what you are teaching as you make curricular connections throughout the three years. 
But in my opinion, this practice of keeping students and teachers together has more than just academic benefits..... I think it benefits BOTH the students AND the teachers from an affective perspective.... because during those three years we ALL develop as human beings.  They make us better teachers, and hopefully we make them better learners. I can definitely say from my own perspective of having my students the last three years that I have DEVELOPED as a person.... and I know that they have made me a better teacher. 
Perhaps countries should quit worrying about when to give which standardized test to whom....but instead look at countries like Denmark who focus on the important things in education.  In case you did not know it, the #1 export in Denmark is KNOWLEDGE and it is not because we have something good or magical in our water....it's because we have an educational system that WORKS. 

DISLIKE
This week is incredibly bittersweet because the worst part of having your students for three years is that after three years, THEY LEAVE. 
Sure, they will come back and visit and show up at the school for special events...
-But no longer will you be involved in their lives on a daily basis...
-No longer will you get to be a witness to their blossoming into the incredible individuals that they have become... 
-No longer will you get to hear them discuss things about which they are so passionate.....
-No longer will you get to watch them overcome their fears each time they get up and speak in front of a group....
-No longer will you get to watch their vocabulary flourish as they make so many new and complex words their own....
-No longer will you get to feel the goosebumps when they talk about how something is "so like Steinbeck" or "just like you'd expect from Bradbury"....
-And no longer will you get to look across the classroom and make eye contact with one to let him know that you know that he "gets it" even though he is not able to say it out loud...


But the good news is that when August comes, you get a new group of 1st years that you get to do it all over again with.....  and you just hope and pray that this new group finds a place in your heart the way that these last two groups did.


So today I thank the 27 students of 3C and the 29 students of 3R because of what THEY gave to me these last three years. 



I am CHANGED.
Because of you.

5 comments:

HOLMES said...

Well, this made me burst into tears.

At my previous school I taught kids for 3 or 4 years in a row because I was the only Spanish teacher. I would have them in 8th grade through 10th or 11th, depending on how many years of Spanish they took. I was so incredibly close to those kids and still am in touch with most of them. Having a group for several years is a good thing.

ladyfi said...

So very moving... says she wiping away a happy tear.

Nina Ø said...

I am going to my high school reunion this coming Saturday in California. I went to a very small Lutheran Schools in California. I never had more than 30 kids in my classes until I hit college. And we had the same teachers every year. It is an awesome experience compared with factory model education. I am 65 and I am on facebook with people I went to first grade with! I am so glad you are experiencing that there can be intimacy between students and teachers. Even education can make hygge times.

Kevin said...

Way to make a girl cry! Such a beautiful education experience for all.

Our girls were fortunate enough to go to a Montessori elementary (magnet) school within the public school system here in Houston. Montessori keeps the kids together with the same teacher for 3 years, as well. INVALUABLE! I credit that Montessori "upbringing" for a lot of their intelligence, character and success today as young adults.

If only US schools would convert to the Montessori Method.

Megan said...

Oh this is great!!!!! I LOVE that you have grown so close to all of your students and that you feel so connected to them it is like a piece of you is being ripped out! That is how you can tell someone is a great educator in my opinion!

I do agree with having kids multiple years if it is in the best interest of the student! Sometimes, conflicting personalities and different ways of teaching/learning could be a hinderance here, however...if a teacher is TRULY qualified to be an educator, they should have experience and credentials in recognizing different learning patterns among students and should be able to adapt to the methods preferred by students. (i hope that made sense LOL!)

My dad is a teacher here in the US and his BIGGEST complaint is he can't stand having to teach strictly out of the SOL guidelines the state mandates. my dad is very creative and seriously LOVES to teach (he retired from being in business at age 40 to become a teacher). These stupid SOL guidelines restrict him from having free reign and passion when he teaches. He says it won't allow him to teach to his fullest potential and it makes all of his students learn the "same way". Anyways...kudos to the Danish education system for a job well done!!!!!