Did the title get your attention? It should! This is just another “Woah!” that I discovered while reading Thomas Armstrong’s Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. According to Armstrong, this phrase was used years ago to describe “a student who showed little promise or potential in the classroom but was a real achiever outside of school, perhaps as the leader of a youth group, a jack-of-all-trades to whom neighbors came for all kinds of repairs or a fledgling entrepreneur with a flourishing small business.” (41)
Well again, he has me thinking about my students, all the students I have had in the past and some of my adult acquaintances and friends. When I think of it, there have been so many students that have passed through my room where all I have known is what they can accomplish inside my four walls. The students, while in school, are just aching to get through the day so they can move on to things they enjoy much more.
I have heard so many stories from adults as well about their experiences in school. Some are close to me. While never saying that education isn’t important, you can tell that they did not enjoy school very much, that they didn’t get much out of the whole experience, besides that one teacher that brought learning alive.
Then there are those parents I come in contact with during conferences that admit defeat. “I wasn’t very good in school, so I can see how my child isn’t either.”
Where has our educational system gone so dramatically wrong? Is it the extremely outdated view and practice of emphasizing only facts and figures? Is it the monotonous lecturing teaching style? Is it the test? Something needs to change and fast!
Thankfully, there are teachers who have moved past this way of conducting the classroom and are focusing in on students needs and intelligences. That is the way to really get students excited about learning. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Our job isn’t to “Retard” our students, it’s to enliven them, to engage them, all of them. And as you may or may not already know about me, I believe that using the Multiple Intelligences and arts integration is a vital tool to accomplish this.
This is not an easy job, but that’s why we need to help, empower and challenge one another.
That’s why it’s also important to bridge the gap between home and school. If students are flourishing outside of school, then we need to learn how they flourish, what makes them tick, how we can use their talents and intelligences to learn more effectively.
Please share with me. How do you engage parents to help you understand your students so that you can engage them in their learning?
Two activities that have worked well-
Have each student bring in:
-an object that represented their family
-3 objects that represented their interests
-an object that represented their future
-a picture of them as a little kid or a baby
Bring in your own objects as well and share who you are outside the classroom.
Give each student the opportunity to teach the others (and yourself) how to do something that they’re good at. Some examples we’ve seen: drawing manga, beading a bracelet, training a dog, soccer drills, reading music, identifying rocks. The format is not always the same, but has included a poster in a step-be-step “how to” format, a demonstration and a hands-on activity for the class.
It’s very important for every student to be seen as a talented individual in the community where they spend most of their time i.e. school. Not everyone will excel in a classroom setting, but when someone’s talent is recognized at school even when it occurs outside of school that student is less likely to be written off as unmotivated or less capable of learning and more likely to see themselves as a contributing member of the classroom community.
I like this idea. I’ve done something similar in the past with bringing in three things to help intro yourself to the class, but I like how your idea is more focused on the students’ talents as well.
I’m sure the process of giving each student a chance to “show and tell” to the class is very time consuming, especially with 25+ kids, (although worth the time, I know…) How do you find that experience to be?