Yesterday was our school’s student led conference day. I’ve written previously on how proud these days make me as an educator. Whens students do genuine reflection on their learning and share the ups and downs of their school days, it’s hard not to see the value of this as an exercise.
During one conference, a student shared a fascinating perspective on her learning in math. This is not the usual level of specificity that we get from our students, so I am eager to share her thinking. Here’s the student’s comment during the conference:
“It isn’t that I don’t like math. Learning takes time in math, and I don’t always get the time it takes to really understand it.”
I asked her for further clarification, and this was her response:
…Math is such an interesting subject that can be “explored” in so many different ways, however, in school here I don’t really get to learn it to a point where I say yeah this is what I know, I fully understand it. We move on from topic to topic so quickly that the process of me creating links is interrupted and I practice only for the test in order to get high grades.
It’s certainly striking to get this sort of feedback from a student who is doing all the things we ask her to do. The activities this student is doing in class are not day-after-day repetitions of “I do, we do, you do” – we do a range of class activities that involve exploring, questioning, and interacting with other students.
This student’s comment is about limitations of time. She isn’t saying that we aren’t doing enough of X, Y, or Z – quite the contrary, she just is asking for time to let it sink in. She doesn’t answer the question of what that time looks like, but that’s not her job, it’s ours.
I know I always feel compelled to nudge a class forward in some way. This doesn’t mean I moving through material more quickly, but I do push for increased depth, intuition, or quality conversation about the content in every class period. Her comment makes me realize that something still stands to be improved. Great food for thought for the weekend.