There are benefits to teaching little people. These are the students who repeatedly pester their parents during the late summer days about when the first day of school is. For the most part, first graders want to come to school, although I've certainly met some who felt differently. I'm not sure what would happen if we all decided they didn't have to be there but were more than welcome to come if they wanted. Would I be teaching to an empty room? It would make for an interesting experiment.
Dave Burgess' question spurred my own question. What exactly are the qualities of a classroom that would trump all the other facets of life that beg for our students' attention? It seems only natural to answer from the standpoint of my own experience as a student. What would keep me coming back even if I weren't required to?
I feel loved.
I feel successful.
I'm interested in the content.
I have a personal connection to the content.
The content is relevant to my life.
I have choice.
I have a chance to shine in a way that fits my personality.
There's time to apply and practice what I'm learning.
My attempts and approximations are accepted.
I get to do, move, and take breaks.
My instructor believes in me.
(I could continue.)
The student in me is probably not much different than the 23 students in my class. This list, although nowhere near exhaustive, sure does make me stop and think about whether my classroom offers my kids the chance to experience something they could not live without. Would they show up if they didn't have to or would they be overwhelmingly drawn to their Legos, Barbies, and video games?