One of the most humbling things we can do as educators or parents is admitting to students or our children when things did not work quite the way we expect them to and apologize to them for that. I did exactly that yesterday during reading. I had spent a lot of time working with students as a class on routines and procedures for reading stations over the course of our first month together. Yesterday I decided it was time for groups to start so I could work with a smaller subset of the class on Pax. I created Reading Street activities for a station in Google Classroom, which offered explicit step-by-step directions for students. Using the hyperdoc model, students work collaboratively and independently on activities I created that go along with the story in their Reading Street books. Learning is self directed and experiences are engaging, giving students access to a variety of learning tools to show their skills and strategies. At the third station students were to finish creating a Facebook profile for Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins and then transition to silent reading. I organized the class, modeled what was expected from the Google Classroom activities, and then sent the class to their stations. The room got real noisy, students were hesitant to try new things without being told to do so, some did not read directions and then got confused. So my station plan was a bust.
We came together as a class, and I apologized to students as I missed a key step of modeling what all three stations look like that day. We reflected together on how the first round of reading stations went. Students shared the room was too noisy, and it was hard to concentrate. Others admitted to rushing and being excited to get to activities without reading directions carefully. One was talking about how he could not find a buddy and instead of asking a group of two to join he just sat there. We talked about trusting our gut, taking risks, and trying things ourselves. I stressed that is it okay when things do not go as we planned and that nothing has to be perfect. We need to let our perfection go in here and just be happy with what is. We need to work together to develop solutions and compromise. Building a community of learners where students feel comfortable to grow, take risks, and admit fault is what I strive to do. We discussed what each group should look like, carefully modeling each station in various areas of the room. Role-playing gave students a chance to see what things should look and sound like. They felt like we could do a do over today and that was exactly what we did.
Today our stations were not perfect but much better than yesterday. Students were able to get work done in each station and felt more confident about what they were doing. They enjoy having choice and voice in our classroom. They feel empowered to make decisions, yet still need to be given the wings to fly. I know someday real soon they will take that leap. I cannot wait for that to happen for each student in here. I also hope they begin to admit when things do not work out right. I modeled that today and will continue to do so.