Being 53 + 32 weeks: What did I learn from you today?

I’m getting everything ready for my new classroom.  I have 90 students on my roster.  Similar to China, without the help of photos I would have no way of knowing which of my students are male or female.  I won’t know until next week what countries they each come from.

I woke up this morning with the inspiration of a class theme I’m finally happy with – although nervous about whether I can actually let this type of self-directed learning happen.

The theme:  What did I learn from you today?

Sounds simple, right?  It may not be obvious that the pronouns are not what you might be thinking.  The question is, “What did Diane learn from [students] today.”

I realize I need to have a structure for our class time each day, but I really want to challenge students (and myself) with the idea that there is something, some thing that I can learn from them if they will only teach me.

In his book, Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes of how journalism became his tool for exploring the world around him, and how it gave him permission to learn anything he desired:

“…with journalism I could directly ask people…about anything I might wonder.  So much of my life was defined by not knowing.”

This is how I feel about my classroom.  There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many days in a lifetime.  I could never venture into every corner of the world to learn of such a variety of people, cultures, and languages as I will find in my classroom.  I will never find another environment (short of the library) where I can look within myself to the extent I’m forced to do when in a classroom.  That’s why I love teaching my specialty area so much.  I don’t want to have lived my life “not knowing” and certainly not without at least asking the questions.

Wish me luck! And thanks for reading!

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Diane Mora

I am a writer (poetry, memoir, creative nonfiction, blogging) and teacher currently living in the Kansas CIty metropolitan area. A National Writer’s Project Writing Teacher Consultant, my method developing writing skills through the lens of personal narrative with low literate students has been highly effective with adults and secondary students who are migrants or refugees to the U.S.

I have given many workshops about my methods to educators across Missouri and will be presenting my techniques to educators in Spain in September 2016. In addition to pencil-paper writing, I have also successfully integrated the use of digital writing tools such as digital storyboards into my practice.

“I believe it’s not enough to simply tell our life stories. It’s important to also share a nugget of wisdom in our writing that might inspire or empower the reader as well as the writer. The concluding paragraph in every writer’s essay contains a “wisdom statement” that is based on something the writer has gleaned from his or her experience of living and now wants to share with others. When students are encouraged to think of their life experience as a learning experience, sharing this wisdom provides a sense of purpose that is highly motivating.” — Diane Mora

I can be reached at:
Linked In: Diane Mora
Twitter: @classroomwithin

Full resume and references available upon request.

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