Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Genius Hour. Passion Projects. Classrooms all over have started implementing this time to allow students to pursue their interests, to learn more about their passions. After the research, students present their findings to others. Now, imagine. Let's say a student is very excited about his project. It's something he's been working on for awhile. He's put the proverbial blood, sweat and tears into this project. It's his baby and he's proud of it. Now it's time to show others. He's got everything he's worked on and produced it into a book. He explains to his audience a little snippet about what he's worked on. He pulls out his book to share. And his audience shrugs, and tells him, it's not something they are really interested in.
There is so much we teach students. We help support them in their work and learning. But we also teach students how to be good listeners. How to be supportive. How to give positive feedback. How to be a supportive audience. Even when the topic is not our favorite.
But how do we ensure that these lessons continue into adulthood? How do we make sure our students become good listeners - to listen and be positive even when it's something that doesn't interest us?
Because the scenario that I presented, actually happened to my dad this weekend. My dad has recently entered into the world of retirement. But he doesn't know what to do with himself. He's worked most of his days and evenings and into the nights for my entire life. Time to relax and slow down is a foreign idea for him. He knew this day would come and he's prepared himself for this and had started his own passion project in advance. Now, he's seen his efforts come into fruition. He's always been a huge crossword puzzle fan. But he doesn't stop at your standard puzzle, he's gotten into all of these different kinds of crosswords. So, what did he do? Combine his passion and his knowledge of business and make a new kind of crossword book - diagramless puzzles. I have never been a words person and this type of puzzle is crazy hard for me. But I enjoy talking to him about this project because he lights up and has this energy when he shares it. However, this weekend he was sharing his book and what he did with another couple. Neither person even looked at the book when he shared it. The man just said, "I'm not a puzzle person." No questions were asked. Conversation shut down. It's happened in other conversations he's had too. So, I get it. I'm not a "puzzle person" either. But I know how to be polite. I can tell when someone is interested in sharing what they are doing and when I'm talking to them, I know how to listen, ask the right questions and let the person share their thoughts. It's what we try and get our students do. How is it that adults have forgotten to be polite? When did they forget how to listen? Ask questions?
I hope our students are holding on to what we practice. I hope they are internalizing these lessons and will recall them as they continue to grow.
There's more to teaching than what is written in the common core or any other standards. We're also in the business making sure that our kids have compassion and empathy. And that's a lifeskill everyone needs.
Are you someone that enjoys crossword puzzles or know someone that is? You can take a look at the ones my dad put together here and here. He's thinking about making some for kids that would go with science and social studies units. I'm glad he's continuing his passion.