My classroom is a place of ownership. My students have a voice in what happens with our daily routines, and have choice within that.
Lately I have really noticed a divide between the students who have been here throughout our changing routines and the ones who have joined late or were away for significant portions of time when we made these changes. The "latecomers," as I will call them, seem to be lacking the sense of ownership that the rest of the class have. They are sticking together and avoiding the "musts" that the rest of the class is working so hard to strive for. It is obvious to me, as an observer, that they do not feel ownership over these routines. And it makes sense, because they were not here when we established them.
This leads me to an important understanding and a couple of important (though confusing) questions...
My new understanding:
Agency in the classroom is working, and ownership is an extremely important aspect of this. I knew agency was an important piece of learning authentically and have been working towards this all year. This gap between my students is really outlining just how important voice and ownership is to ensure the learners are using their agency well. These girls didn't really have a voice, and therefore don't feel ownership. All they have is choice. This is not enough.
My new questions:
- Do I need to be thinking of ways to consistently renew this sense of ownership?
- Should we be creating a new set of Musts, Shoulds, and Coulds at the beginning of every unit? Would they change much? They might....
- At the end of the school year, does our focus change? Would new lists help them focus on what they really need to do to tie the year together and finish it off well rounded? Is that important? Is that important to them?
- Does everyone's musts, shoulds, and coulds lists have to be the same? It makes it easier for me, but is that the most important thing?
- Could our lists be more vague? Eg. Must work on your math focus area/weekly goal, Should work on time management skills, Should be more organised, etc.
I believe that next week, on a day that I have 100% attendance, we will delete all of our current musts, shoulds, and coulds. I plan to discuss with them what is important for our final unit. Then create new lists. Maybe these lists will be more vague, maybe they will all be different, maybe they will be different every week. I really don't know yet... But my gut tells me that these two students might finally feel ownership because their voice is being heard and they are part of the new process.
How do you deal with latecomers/absentees in your class? How do you make sure they are owning the process just as much as everyone else?
Watch this space...
Passionate Canadian PYP Teacher in Vietnam