Put mildly, I have very strong opinions about my high school experiences. Most of them weren’t positive.
(If you have a half-hour to kill, feel free to read more about this in detail here.)
Simply returning to my alma mater to speak to my host teacher last week brought back a flood of memories when walking down the hallway to her classroom. I can’t pinpoint it in the slightest, but there’s something about the smell of those hallways that put a little dread in me, both on that day and yesterday (my first day observation teaching).
I wasn’t bullied in high school; it just wasn’t a pleasant experience for me, for reasons fleshed out in the above linked blog post. In short, I was one of many students who didn’t feel our voices were heard by those in authority. I didn’t feel I was in a place where others valued education as much as I did, and in consequence I resented anyone (administrator or student) who made my education suffer.
Yesterday started out with a similar feeling when I entered the hallways, particularly as they swarmed with kids. I mentioned in my last post having to stop myself from stereotyping certain students. It’s easy to want to categorize them in this way in the school hallways that double as a memory trigger. But I received instant karma when one of the students I internally classified as one of the “popular kids” based on looks and behavior actually gave one of the most thorough presentations in the class. Apparently this labeling isn’t something one naturally grows out of upon graduation.
As they day progressed, I started to see the place with new eyes. This was especially true as I observed some of my former teachers in their element and chatted with other teachers after school. They were all so excited by the prospect of me going into teaching that it was hard not to feel the same.
In some ways it feels like I just graduated from high school a year or two ago. To a small degree, that may be one of the reasons I prefer the idea of teaching middle schoolers — I worry high-school students won’t see me as an authority figure, and thus won’t take me seriously. But I’m quickly learning my high-school experience is much removed from theirs. A small list of examples:
- The concept of teenagers owning cell phones (excuse me, flip phones) was just coming onto the horizon.
- We didn’t have to worry about every silly thing we did at school being recorded and posted for the world to see.
- We could write in cursive.
But the changes aren’t all bad. Today in particular I marveled at the use of technology in the classroom — each student using a laptop, participating in formative assessment (disguised as a game) that revealed on the teacher’s smart board each student’s correct and incorrect answers in real time. Instant feedback — what an efficient tool for all involved! Rather than give the same lecture five times to five classes, and risk omitting important information in the process, a teacher can record herself disseminating crucial information and have students watch on their laptops, pausing and rewinding when necessary. Students can return to the recording on Google Classroom at home if needed.
I’ll do another post on technology in education later, as this post’s already getting long. For now, suffice it to say this 26 year old is pretty jealous of kids today — in regards to their educational opportunities, that is. All that other drama you couldn’t pay me to revisit.