Yesterday and today I participated in one of our friend’s multi-family garage sales in Rush, NY. And naturally while sitting around doing next to nothing I began thinking about teaching and how it was kind of like a garage sale.
Each family/person that brought stuff to sell all brought different things and what they brought said a little something about their personality. Of course, I thought that what I had brought would be desirable and would sell (nice stuff, in good shape…etc.) But here’s the catch, each person who came to the sale had their eye out for something totally different. Every customer was interested in something different. I was amazed at how much of my stuff didn’t sell and was clearly therefore not appealing to anybody. I may have sold 30% of what I brought and what did sell were the items that I thought would be last to go!
So this is where I began thinking about teaching. I am going to bring things to my classroom that I think students are going to want to learn about and experience. But they are all going to come with very different interests. They will likely not be looking for what I think they are looking for. What happens if my students only respond to 30% of what I bring to them? It is easy to see at a garage sale what people like and don’t like…if it doesn’t sell, it was not a hit. But what about in the classroom? Will it be so easy to tell what isn’t working for my students? At best, we will only capture our students’ interests 30% of the time unless we commit ourselves to constantly consider what they are looking for and reflect on what we brought to the classroom.
Long story short, I will bring more jeans next year!