Being a good role model and community member is what I am all about when it comes to teaching. I hope that by setting a good example in the classroom, my students will in turn grow into mature young adults, ready to contribute positively to society. The behavior of some of the students in my class have been a healthy reality check for me. Several students exhibit consistently distracting, immature behavior that can sometimes negate the serious timbre of my lessons. However, I believe today I had a bit of a breakthrough.
We were discussing cyberbullying today; a topic I know is near and dear to many of the hearts of the students in my classroom. Some have been directly affected by cyberbullying, and many others have witnessed such acts in their own lives. "We are talking about a very grave topic today," I stated in class, "so it is important that we remain mature, academic, and sensitive to others when discussing such a topic." I proceeded to open up the conversation to the rest of the class.
Now, as was the case every time beforehand, I knew the students that typically spoke out during discussions and caused distractions or interrupted others, so my attention was solely placed on them. However, as students began to share out their experiences – some very personal – the usual suspects remained quiet and attentive to what their peers had to say. One of my students was moved to tears and the remainder of the class looked on with sympathetic looks in their eyes. I was baffled and sincerely impressed by the maturity that my students exhibited today.
So, the question becomes, how do I carry on in lessons from here? Did these students remain respectful simply because it was a sensitive topic? A topic that they could relate to? If we do not have a class discussion that fits this criteria in the future, will they behave differently? I am currently in the midst of developing a discussion protocol on behavior that I hope to carry on with some students in focus groups next week, and I think I will be looking to implement a question about this discussion specifically.
All of this is being added to the plethora of questions whizzing through my mind, and while I still have yet gain a true clarity of what happened today, I think I am beginning to understand how it will shape my action research.