Last week I had the opportunity to see the musical Hamilton. Though many would say I was late to the party, I had listened to the music many times prior. Listening to the soundtrack, however, was not as powerful as putting the music with the context on stage. I left with my brain running for many reasons, but for this blog post, I'm am going to focus on one important line:
Talk Less, Smile More
Let's see...where have I seen this before? Oh yes! My wise mentor, Linda Ashida, has been sharing a similar message for years, complete with a post-it note by her desk (which is still up despite her retiring at the end of last school year).
Whether the line is from Aaron Burr telling Alexander Hamilton to keep his opinions to himself or Linda's philosophy of learning from listening to others, I find that I struggle with this. Therefore, I'm challenging myself to button my lips and to observe and listen more.
With My Students
In the classroom, I have started asking myself "Do I need to be talking now?" I am questioning whether or not students need specific information or whether they can pull it from prior knowledge or work with peers to obtain this information. For instance, instead of giving notes on the key terminology in mathematical translations like I have done in previous years, my students brainstormed on the whiteboard wall all of the terms that are associated with the math symbols +, -, >, =, etc. Instead of correcting or adding words that were missed, we worked together throughout various translations and made adjustments to the board throughout the week's lessons based on our findings.
The experience was surreal. Many students thrived, and I saw their confidence soar! Other students struggled a great deal and questioned me, "Why aren't you telling us what to do? I need notes in order to learn." It was hard for me to stand my ground with these students and not cave to provide them what they were asking, but by the end of the week these students trusted in the process and found more confidence in their abilities. When I noticed that most groups were struggling with a concept, I had another group go to the board and explain their thought process. It was really eye opening for me to step back and allow the students to teach one another, and I plan to continue to facilitate these types of processes as much as I can.
With My Peers
I get very excited talking and collaborating with others about education, lesson ideas, and new methods of facilitating learning in the classroom. Often times when I am talking with a peer, I find myself interjecting suggestions that I have observed in other classrooms or those that I have tried with my students because I get very excited to bounce ideas around. I have realized that I sometimes cut off the other person's thinking or impose my own beliefs on them instead of allowing my peers to find what works best for them and their students. I'm challenging myself to go back to my mentality as a student teacher: I am a sponge. This was my philosophy of listening, absorbing, and processing all of the ideas around me and then figuring out what works best for my situation. This is especially important in my role as instructional coach, to provide my peers with the tools to set goals, brainstorm lesson ideas, and self-reflect purposefully.
So as I am adapting this phase as my new mantra, you can listen here to have a positive song stuck in your head the rest of the day! Maybe it will influence you as well!