Something different is happening in my classroom this year. To start with my students are moving along faster, doing much more complicated work than I have ever had happen before. They are working through difficult technical issues with good, positive attitudes. Lots of “well that didn’t work, lets try this” types of things are happening. One afternoon a kid yelled out, with his arms raised in triumph “Yes, our point data is displaying right, we did it!” As he finished the sentence the bell rang and he said “Dang, I still need to make a layer package!” It was fun to watch. In past years many kids would have given up, and I would spend lots of time trying to coax them into continuing. But its different this year.
I think part of the reason for the difference is I have made a deliberate effort this year to “encourage kids to fail.” Not fail as in flunk, but to take risks. I tell them they are supposed to mess up- that’s why we call it school. I dare them to break the software. I remind them to save often, but don’t be afraid to push buttons and see what happens. If something breaks don’t push that button next time. And if you figure it out (we even have a song “figure it out”) don’t be stingy, show someone else. If you can’t figure it out, ask someone who did.
I find myself sitting in the corner of the room many days just watching and smiling. Its busy. Its noisy. And its a bit messy. Often times every student is working on something different, no two screens look alike. Its awesome. Lately kids have been asking if they can do a project over because “mine came out boo boo. I need to fix this and that.” In years past they would have just said it was “good enough.” But my favorite comment so far this year was the girl who said “Hey Mr. Hall, come over here. Its time you learned how to do this too. Sit down right here, I am going to teach you how.”