Oct 03

I’m bored. So what?

I think about things like keeping students engaged. I wonder about helping students stay on task and having in class socializing focused on the content we are learning. I wonder about asking 28 individuals to conform so that we can get along and learn in a small space. I try to be open to new ideas for motivating my students. I wonder about individualizing the learning experience of each of my 130 students. There’s so much to do and so many choices that I get overwhelmed.

I recently read Things I Know 233 of 365: Kids could do with a bit of boredom from Autodizactic’s blog after finding it through a retweet (RT) by MrTRice_Science. It got me thinking about boredom in my students. I think I hate hearing, “I’m bored,” more than anything else. I guess I take it personally because if my students are bored then I’m not providing exciting learning opportunities for them. And yet I’ve worked hard to get Science equipment and materials as well as computers, netbooks and iPads to help students learn. I keep thinking about leading horses to water and then having them not drink and it bugs me. I wonder about how much unstructured inquiry vs structured inquiry to have students do. I wonder about how much I can have students choose what to learn vs choosing topics for them from the Science kit we are learning from. So I don’t accept, “I’m bored,” as a response for anything. When a kids says that I do reply with, “So what?” Now that I know a kid in my room is bored he or she can get to work.

So how do I balance all these swirling thoughts? I think of something that has done me well in life, “everything in moderation.”

“Do everything in moderation, including moderation.” Benjamin Franklin

I’ve heard that to do more sometimes we have to do less. I often have to remind myself of that. I try to find happy mediums and I try to figure out what to do and what to put off until next year. It does depend on the students right in front of me at the moment. It has to. Sure, sometimes I teach to the whole class. Sometimes I let students move at their own pace using the technology available to us. Sometimes I let students choose and sometimes I lead them where I’d like to see them go. While I don’t grade them I do let them choose what they want to see on their report card because the school still requires some kind of grading. They can get a Pass or a letter grade if they want (at this level the letter grade doesn’t mean anything anyway).

So it seems like I try a little bit of everything I can get my hands on to provide as many different learning opportunities for my students. I try not to focus to heavily on any one thing and those that I do tend to focus on the most are having my students blog and using technology to learn, connect, communicate and collaborate. That’s how to deal with my swirling dichotomies. Moderation.

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    • Toddloomismiller on October 5, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    John Martin used to have an interesting response to “This is boring..” type of comments. He would just say, “What’s your point?” It is a pretty useful response if you think about it. What exactly is the point of such a comment? Usually it is to try and get the teacher’s or parent’s goat. When I have used it it really puts the emphasis back on the kid, which is where a comment like that belongs.

  1. I’m going to have to try that one. And I do think many if not most of the time you’re right, the purpose of telling the teacher that you’re bored is to get his or her goat. Being bored becomes their responsibility and they need to know that. If I were asking them to fill out a worksheet for 50 minutes a day then I would agree. Worksheets are boring. And if they find research boring then they should take me up on my offer to come up with a similar topic that they would like to learn about. They rarely take me up on that.

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