Today, we had double Genius Hour. In the second hour, students presented what they have been studying. We had a lot of fun. My mom, a genius herself, came and hung out with us. I bought everyone pizza. So many good things happened today.
It’s hard to explain to anyone who doesn’t know these students and this context why the list of events below were so… powerful and empowering.
A student I thought would be too shy to present and has been dealing with anxiety, leapt up and read her creative writing piece without blinking an eye. We all had a good laugh. There is a depth to this young woman that can be missed because she is so quiet a lot of the time. I have seen this in her, but today, we all saw it together. She got a lot of positive feedback from the class as we all giggled along.
A Grade 12 student comes in once a week to teach a group of boys guitar. He is learning about teaching, and maybe this will have some positive benefits for him beyond the immediate pleasure of passing along his skill. He is a patient teacher and a model of what pure passion looks like.
There was pride, as students strode through the school carrying their music instruments. One student joked, “We are on our way to our first gig!” But behind the comment was a kind of seriousness that was also very touching. You feel just the edges of someone wanting something more….
The smile on one student’s face as he showed off his skill…. It is a smile that I am starting to see appear during regular class-time.
I loved watching a young man lean in and help another student learn something. You might have to know how the teacher in this scenario is a student who is largely disengaged.
The Knitters! Granny told them they were the light of her life on Thursdays when she comes to knit with them. Seventy-three years old and she does the twist to the students’ music playing through the iPod dock.
I love the intergenerational mix that is happening. (If I had a magic wand, and all the decision-making power, I would built an atrium on the sunny side of our school and staff it with elders doing all kinds of things, including sitting by the window with their favourite pet.)
What liberation for all of us, that nobody’s work was assessed by numbers or rubrics or checklists. I didn’t have to fail anyone, even the ones who blew it off. I didn’t have to judge anyone’s oral presentation. I didn’t even tell them how they could improve their work. I was able to celebrate all their interests, and all the ways the chose to show their work. I made no mention of grammatical errors.
There was none of this: Can I hand it in tomorrow? I am not ready. When will you tell us our marks? Did I get an A? Was my mark higher or lower than hers? What’d you get?
I could just enjoy them, and they could just enjoy themselves, and it wasn’t for anything else but for the pure joy of it.
I even had a good laugh at a silly, slap-dash PowerPoint that two kids threw together. It was about nothing, but funny, and showed they hadn’t been using Genius Hour. (Of course I knew this already). Nobody’s parents are being called. It is entirely up to them to be accountable. Nobody will make them do it, help them get it done, tell them the answers. They will not squeak by. I hope they will start using it. I hope they saw all the fun we had, and reach higher, and I think they will.
I have to think hard and talk to my PLN on Twitter about when and how to push for higher and higher quality in terms of presentation and areas of study. But these students right now are just enjoying/learning/relearning what ‘for the love of it means’ and I am not ready to do anything at all to jeopardize the pure genius of what is happening.