Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Take the time...

I just finished reading Laura Coughlin's blog at Love::Teaching, and it got me thinking, as all educator blogs seem to do to me!

I commented...
Laura, I get it. I find myself in the same situation some years. And I only have 58 students because we have 80 min. with them. I find it's not just what I do, however... It's what I allow other students to do. Many times, other students take control of the class discussions, and if they're going smoothly, I don't interrupt. I should, though, so we can hear everyone's voice. And when a student is quiet, and says, "I don't know," ask him or her, "But if you DID know, what would you say?" ...And then wait for the answer... Tough duty, but we go back for more every year, hoping to have that "dream class..."

I found, this year, that by becoming more of the "guide on the side" instead of the "sage on the stage," I was able to let students "own their own learning." This happened through discussion of text, instead of me feeding them answers, and it happened through our genius hour sessions, as well. In class discussions, I lost sight of some of my students - the quiet ones who are used to being spoon-fed information. During out genius hour, however, I could sit with each student, one-on-one, and learn about his/her passion...

I truly loved learning that Paul was interested in what weapons Marines used, or that Briana could be brave enough to present first - on bullying - and that Sarah could read a poem written by a child with cancer, while her father is suffering from it today. I am very fortunate to work with 7th graders who can take the bull by the horns, and try something new... But I'm more fortunate to have gotten to know my 58 students a little better - as people, instead of as children passing through my classroom.


  1. I'm so touched that my post inspired a post from you! I'm interested in genius hour - I've been following Denise Krebs's work with it the last few months. My wheels are already spinning for next year...

    -Laura Coughlin

  2. Joy and Laura,

    I love that we can be inspired from far away with educators who are interested in the same processes at the very same time. In the past it's always been hard to find someone in my building who was working on the same personal/professional learning goals at the same time. Now, with a world of teachers available, we are able to find and learn from each other. This is all very exciting for me! Blessings to all of us as we continue to KNOW our students and walk with them in their pursuit of becoming lifelong learners. We are fortunate! What could be a better way to spend our days?