Focus, Control

I’m trying to figure out exactly how I’m feeling right now in order to figure out what to do about it.  In my Upper School classes, my students are in the middle of projects.  CS I students are finishing up CS Ed Week projects while my Physical Computing students are taking a bit of a break while they construct the Rube Goldberg machine.  In CS I, it’s clear to me that some students are working “harder” than others.  I’m trying to decide if that’s okay and trying to decide how I’m going to assess that.  And I’m also thinking I need to change this assignment up a bit.  But it’s too late to do anything about it now.

Not all my students in Physical Computing are participating in the Rube Goldberg project.  Of the students not participating, some are really working on their Arduino projects.  Others . . . not so much.  Again, I’m trying to decide if I’m okay with that.  And, we’re faced with just 6 weeks left in the class altogether with all the projects still in a state of disarray.  I’m resisting the urge to just “figure things out” for them and just let what happens happens.  I think I have a way of dealing with the unfinished-ness, but I’m trying to decide if I’m okay with that.

In MS, I have 3 sets of new students, which means I get to start over.  I’ve seen 6th and 7th grade so far, and they’re going well so far.  I’ll see 8th grade today, and, as you know, I’m a bit worried about how that will go.

I’m feeling like there’s something I could be doing to “make things better”.  Could I/should I work harder to keep my CS students on task? Ditto for Physical Computing.  Should I have the PC students write something up about the Rube Goldberg project?  How can I set my expectations better in MS so that, as one student told me yesterday, they don’t feel like “They’re watching movies all class.”  Which is not true, but if that’s what they remember, wow.  We watched the code.org video and I have videos posted for them to watch, but wow.

I could chalk it up to Imposter Syndrome, but I think I’m feeling both a lack of focus and control. I’m shifting gears every 40 minutes some days and nothing is the same from day to day.  And I feel like I’ve lost control of my classes a bit.  And I’m not the kind of teacher who needs control.  I run a very student-centered class, but as I lamented yesterday, there’s a fine line between student-centered and Lord of the Flies.  Maybe I just need to be okay with the discomfort for now while making clear what the goals of the class are as well as my expectations for students.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Once more, into the breech.

One Reply to “Focus, Control”

  1. I hear about classrooms that may have gotten a little bit too chaotic from the other side (i.e. my kiddo). My kid does well with open-ended problems and can “meet and exceed” expectations when given large projects with open goals. But, inevitably there are kids who flail int he classroom with similar instructions.

    Since the goal (I think in your classroom, and also in my kids’ school), is to help the kids become independent thinkers, the solution never seems to be to give the kids a more structured environment. But if the mix of the kids who don’t function well with little structure and the kids who do OK is imbalanced enough, you end up with a really chaotic classroom where not a lot of learning seems to get done (my daughters’ complaint).

    I don’t have any advice to offer (just a recognition of what I see happening — one wants to give the kids an opportunity to be creative and unconstrained and learn in unexpected ways — all excellent goals. But, sometimes, they just mess around for hours, get distracted, and don’t learn (or, at the very least, don’t know what they’ve learned).

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