Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fostering Excitement in 21st Century Students

This afternoon, I was typing a letter in my office. Most of our students had cleared the building. I heard pieces of conversation between teachers just outside my office. They were discussing who was going to administer and proctor the coming state tests. Suddenly, two students rushed into my office with a Flip camera and blurted, “You’ve gotta see this!”

Earlier in the afternoon, they had gotten permission to use one of the Flip cameras to walk down the street to shoot some video. Now they were back and could not contain their excitement. Obviously, some administrators would have had none of this kind of intrusion. They would have told the two students, “You go back outside my office and knock like you’re supposed to!” That wasn’t my reaction. In fact, I was so taken by surprise by their level of energy and enthusiasm, that I went along with it. They honestly did not give me any choice. One of the students plugged the camera into my computer’s USB port, and asked if he could use my mouse. He really did not wait for an answer, which was fine. I wanted to see where this was going. He manipulated the software for a minute until their latest creation appeared on my monitor. I was still surprised by the excitement these two students were showing. It was uncharacteristic for these two students to show that level of enthusiasm. It was even more amazing that they wanted to eagerly show me their video. By the way, these are two high school students who as a rule don’t want be caught living in the principal’s office.

Together we watched their video segments. Both them made comments like, “We’re gonna edit that out,” and “We gotta leave that in there.” When the video was finished, the Flip camera was quickly unplugged with very little comment. They finally asked to show it to the whole school tomorrow.

This encounter was one of those powerful experiences begging for reflection. As educators, how many times have our students busted into our offices, brimming with excitement and we use the experience to remind them of proper manners rather than embracing their moment of engagement?  How many times have we become so encumbered with the “stuff of our jobs” that we actually dampen the excitement for creation and learning our students exhibit? There are wonderful reasons to be an educator in the 21st century. Our students are content creators not just content consumers. These two young men reminded me what it is all about today. Thank you gentlemen!

1 comment:

  1. That's what I've been telling my students; be creators, not just consumers! Great post - thank you! I will never again apologize for allowing my students to explore, create, and be enthusiastic about their lives and learning.