In my humanities class, one student is responsible for a short current events presentation each Friday. This morning, the student chose to present on the March For Our Lives protests last Saturday.
When he finished his slides, the student asked the class for questions or comments on the subject. I sat mostly quiet and observed as my class began asking questions, debating, and discussing the march and the issue of gun control in America. This discussion went on energetically and productively for about 20 minutes – and would have kept going had I let it. Every student was engaged and involved.
In 18 years of teaching, I’ve never been more impressed and inspired by one of my classes than I was this morning.
I’ve learned that if you are lucky enough to get the right mix of students (and you do a competent job of setting consistent norms throughout the year), by springtime sometimes a magical thing might occur – your class may essentially start running itself. And if you let it happen, and it happens just right, the result can be a far more productive, engaging, and valuable experience for the students than you could ever hope to create on your own.