I use emojis, gifs, Vines, and memes every day in my classroom. Not to be the cool, relatable teacher (but that’s obviously part of it, duh), but because I think it’s important bringing things I enjoy into my classroom. Usually my students respond, but sometimes, when a room of 30 is staring at me with blank faces, I want to scream, “WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?!?!” Let me explain.
I never want to waste anyone’s time. I want everything I do to be worthwhile and, if people comes across my work, I want them to feel that time was not wasted reading or viewing it. It’s the same in my career. See, it would be the easiest thing for you to delete this email and never finish reading it. There would be absolutely no consequences (though it would be so *~rude~*). The work I do for my career, though, has much more weight to it. My students can’t simply swipe left on my assignments and forget about them with no ramifications. They have to experience them. So, just like in my writing and photography, maybe even more so, my work has to mean something to be valuable.
When I give my students assignments, I make sure to emphasize the elements I’m looking for. Sure it’s mostly classic school stuff, things that have to be included in an assessment, but there’s always something personal that I ask them to add into their work. I never want them to walk away from an assignment feeling like they’ve wasted their time, or just repeated the answers they think I want to hear. Being in high school, though, this is what most of them do.
I remember being a high schooler and feeling like most of my assignments were pointless. I never want my students to feel that way. I want them to feel rewarded by the products that they create, and feel accomplished both in what they’ve learned and what they’ve made. Many times, no matter how fun or cool I think an assignment is, that’s not the case. I’m learning not to let their response to my hard work determine how successful I feel in my career. If I let their feelings toward school define me I’d be #wrecked every day.
SO MUCH EASIER SAID THAN DONE. More often than not I arrive at work excited and leave defeated. What went wrong? Why didn’t they like it? And the truth is, most of my students don’t hate what they do. They don’t hate the assignments I give them, or hate me. They’re in high school, though, and they act like it. Many times I do see students engaging with my content. I see them appreciate the work they’re doing, even if they’re reluctant to do it. But sometimes even my best students resist. Why? Because teenagers.
So, I’ve quickly learned that it’s not my job to ensure they like what they do. It’s a part of my job that I think I do really well, but it’s not a requirement. It IS my job to make sure they learn from what they do. It’s my responsibility to give them the best possible chance to succeed. And for me, that means making my work meaningful, my classroom fun, and keeping the quality of my work high. At the end of the day, learning is what matters. And I only hope that some of them enjoy themselves along the way.