The Unnecessary Teacher
I felt worthless and I’m okay with that.
My class is currently in the middle of an interdisciplinary project integrating our economics standards into our writing workshop. Here are the basics: The students “become entrepreneurs” as they create their own business. They learn economics content about goods, services, supply, and demand, and all of this new knowledge helps them decide what they will “sell” at our culminating event, a Market Day visited by other classes.
In order to increase demand for the goods or service they plan to sell, we study and practice creating content using various persuasive techniques. Techniques include sense appeal, humor, fear, and many more. (Here’s a great source we use for lessons.) We examine print ads and commercials, identifying the techniques being used, and use these as mentor texts as students create their own print ads and video commercials. Lessons in filming, importing, and editing video are included when needed.
So, last Thursday morning, the students were working with their groups. Some chose to divide the tasks among individuals, getting help from peers when needed. Others chose to work together on one task, completing it before moving on together. They were efficient, productive machines. And who did they not need? Me. After the mini-lesson, I circulated the room, ready to answer questions and provide assistance, but I was ignored. They were so engrossed their work, most groups didn’t even see me walk by. I was just an extra. I could have gone to Starbucks.
After I got past the shock of being unnecessary, I started to be proud of what I had helped set up and what the kids were doing. The Market Day culminating event made everything they were doing real. They weren’t working just for me; they were working with this real purpose. It was driving everything they did.
Now that more time has passed, I see the challenge for myself: figure out how to make everything in school as authentic as possible. I know that not every skill with lend itself to this type of project, but more than I realize probably do. I’m excited to tackle this next year.