Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sabrina's Magic Spell

I never thought I'd live to see the day, but late this morning a group of Lyons high school students used their lunch time free choice library access to put pencils to paper and work on a class project instead of noodling around aimlessly on the library's dinosauresque computers, huddled close together around one or two terminals so that I won't see what sites they use to jump the Department of Ed. firewall and go on Facebook. Through my tears of joy I summoned the presence of mind to snap a photo of this miraculous event.

It seems I owe this paradigm shift to tenth grade ELA teacher Sabrina. The kids told me they were working on a poetry project for her. Yay Sabrina! Yay poetry! Not only were these students failing to exhibit their usual library behaviors, which always look to me like pointedly and aggressively wasting time while complaining loudly that they're bored, and were actively discussing their work, without doing so disruptively. Simply amazing!

Across the room, an eleventh grader worked quietly the whole time on a poster for art class. She showed me her work at the end of period and this time I was so blown away I forgot to get a snapshot.

Could this be the beginning of a sea change? I hope the other teachers and I can continue to cultivate more students who are actually want to use the library as a workspace and not a chill spot. As appealing as the latter may sound to an adult who knows how to chill without bothering other people, the adolescent version of a chill spot without the constant intervention of adults can range from boisterous to literally unsafe.

With some structure in place and some motivating or even, dare I say it, fun assignments for the students to do, it can be a dream come true.

- Posted remotely via mobile phone.