“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
― Ernest Hemingway
I have heard the story about when I first lied to my parents at least a gazillion times. My family was going on some fantastic outing, probably to the dollar movies, and I couldn’t wait leave. Before pulling out of our driveway, my father asked me, “Billie Ann, did you brush your teeth?” Well in my young mind I knew if I answered, “no” it would mean tromping inside and brushing my teeth which would take away precious moments of our outing. My reply was a, “yes daddy,” which he replied, “So if I go inside and touch your toothbrush it will be wet?” Needless to say I got reprimanded that day, and the moment that stood out to me was the fact that my mother told me one of the things she hated in life was liars and she couldn’t hate me, so I better not be a liar.
It can be hard to know what every student in your classroom is doing when technology is involved. Trust is something that is hard to build and is very easily taken away. I have told my classroom about the first time I lied to my parents, and how important it is that I can trust that they are on task and having helpful conversations when they are working at centers. Yesterday, we were finishing up our final copies on an argumentative writing on why IPads are a tool. I wanted these writings to be perfect because our principal agreed that we could send them to a nearby middle school and that really got my students jazzed. The students used Strip Design to write and layout their pages. Then, the students sent the PDFs to Box. Box is a super easy and FREE app that allows the teacher to download an entire class set of work and print at once!
Once the “final copies” were sent to Box, I printed the pages out in black and white for the students to see. I explained to them that when I was in high school I would always print a final copy and then check it again to make sure my writing was perfect. When the students sat down to conference with their hard copy in hand it was interesting to see how many mistakes they could identify on their own. I gave them constructive criticism as well and then sent them on their way to fix their mistakes and resubmit their final copy.
Sitting with my final student I noticed my classroom was extremely quiet. If an adimistrator had poked their head in I am sure they would have thought, “Wow, she sure has them under her thumb.” When in reality I simply trusted that they were on task while I was meeting with students. I also noticed eyes darting around the room and back and forth from their IPads to me… I knew something was up. Finally, a brave student raised his hand and said, “Mrs. Blalock, can we make comments on each other’s writings?”
Cue stomach drop feeling. My students figured out a part of the app that I had yet to. They could not only read, but also comment on each other’s writings! Without making it look like I was sweating I simply said, “What type of comments are being made?” “Oh nothing bad. Ya know, good job! I like your writing. You didn’t have five paragraphs. Stuff like that.” I checked and he was telling the truth!
My class had been reading and analyzing each other’s writings for the last ten minutes. I took a moment to explain constructive criticism and how to take it. I also explained that as a professional I grow from constructive criticism all the time. I was so proud that my students had exuded more trust than I had the day I wanted to go to the movies. I am excited to use the comments in Box to further my future editors. Students that can work together well in a classroom show that they can make the transition to working with others in a professional career. I think my young scholars are off to a good start!
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