There have been numerous times that I've talked with other teachers that share the same students. Occasionally, I'll have learned something really interesting or shocking about that student and ask, "did you know...?!" Usually, it leads to a reply of disbelief - "there's no way" that that student does that after school. "There's no way" that the quiet girl who barely says two words all day plays on the boys' football team. "There's no way" that the class clown who never stops cracking jokes wouldn't let his sister go to the bathroom by herself, but walked her there and waited at the door, after reading a book about a young girl that was abducted. "There's no way" that that obnoxious student who just walked out of your classroom in the middle of your lecture has been sleeping on his best friend's floor for two months.
But there is, and the sad part is that we are so caught up in the paperwork and labels and data that sometimes we overlook the most simple act of what we do - or what we should do - as teachers: we learn and we love. We learn for our students, but we must also learn about our students and with our students. We love what we do and we love why we do it. Much like Jenny mentioned in her blog, it is critical that we consider ourselves as "explorers on a journey full of discovery and surprise" (2). Each day really is like an adventure...and we need to be willing to take those steps with our students rather than watching them take the steps alone. I know that we, as cohort members in this program, are willing and ready to do this, but how do we ensure that this adventure is a piece of all classrooms? How do we ensure that we are adapting our curriculum to each individual learner, without getting bogged down in hoards of paperwork and labels and files?
"To name oneself as a teacher is to live with one foot in the muck of the world as we find it - with its conventional patterns and received wisdom - and the other foot striding toward a world that could be but isn't yet" (11). I couldn't help but think of Frank Smith as I was reading Ayers, his voice popping up within the dialogue boxes or text in between. When Ayers described the way kids experience school (36-37), all I could think of was the classic and official theories of learning that Smith explained. These are the conventional patterns and received wisdom that are passed down from generation to generation - the students who can collect the most chips tend to be the ones who do best in school/enjoy school, and then become teachers themselves, unintentionally passing down the same values to their own students.
But how do we move further? How do we get closer to the "world that could be but isn't yet?" I was always a good student, and I'm sure I had quite the stash of chips - perhaps I still do. Through this particular part of my teaching and learning journey (the ASTL name just made COMPLETE sense to me, by the way, wow), I really want to start focusing on how I can help all of my students, including (especially) the ones that don't have as many chips, the ones that seem to be the most disinterested in learning, the ones that no one else tries to understand. What is their connection to learning? How can I make it accessible to them? How can I ensure that they're along for the adventure? How can the students that have a lot of chips be pushed even further, out of their comfort zones? How can I ask the right questions that they can answer, or want to answer? How can I be the best teacher I can possibly be, so that the most learning that could possibly take place actually does?