I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again: kids always amaze me. I really believe that students will perform up, or down, to our expectations.
Case in point: we’re studying the US Constitution in my two 7th grade history sections. To give them a taste of how this all works, I tasked them both with coming up with a “constitution” for the class. They worked in 3-4 groups, developed a set of rules and guidelines in each group, and then dumped all the suggestions into a Moodle wiki.
Then I said they could choose 10 out of all of them. I walked out of the room and left them to it. I actually suggested using Robert’s Rules to see if they would pick up on the hint. They didn’t. Guess I should have been more direct!
One class (the bigger one) was loud. Really loud. They did accomplish some things. But there was also lots of grumbling, complaining about not being heard, some people monopolizing the discussion, etc. So I went over a very simplified version of Robert’s Rules of Order with them, and then left them to it again. What a difference! It ran smoothly, much more quietly, and they finished on time. All seemed pretty happy with Robert and his Rules, as well as proud of their accomplishments. I told them I was proud of the work they had done, and the mature way they had done it.
So the takeaway? Sometimes we expect young people to act in a certain way without giving them the tools by which to do so. Once they “got” the Robert’s procedure, they went with it and did a fantastic job. And yes, we all signed the document and will post it in a prominent place in the classroom.