I was talking to my friend Diana on the weekend, about the passing rule. She had read my post, “Just say Pass!” and it made her think about her experience in post secondary courses.
“It’s not good when people always pass,” she said. “In all my classes, most people hardly said anything. Two or three white men did all the talking, and the other students said nothing. Most people passed all the time.” Continue reading
“Ruby slippers” by RadioFan at English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –
In a recent post I told the story of Naomi, who said “I pass” for more than three months in our basic literacy class, refusing all invitations to take part in group reading, writing and math sessions, or to do any private work in those areas; who instead spent her time making and colouring banners.
She was able to refuse to take part because of the classroom rule “Just say pass,” which is one of my mainstays in teaching adult literacy. She sat on the outskirts of the class, watching, until she could find a way to participate that was comfortable for her. She tested us for three months until she decided she could trust the situation, until she decided it was safe for her. Continue reading
Naomi started in September, a quiet young woman with a wary eye. She began to say “I pass” immediately upon hearing the classroom rule, “Pass if you want to.”
We were team teaching the literacy class, in two interconnecting rooms. In one we held group sessions in reading, writing, math and science; in the other students could work individually on assignments or on private literacy work (filling out forms, reading and responding to business letters, etc.). We teachers scheduled ourselves so that we each taught some of the group sessions, and spent the rest of our time in the other room, helping students individually. Students were free to choose to take the scheduled classes, or to spend time working on their own. Some students spent all their time in the group sessions, and did assignments at home; most divided their time between the two rooms.
Naomi was different. She chose not to go to any scheduled classes. Every hour or so, as the group activity changed, one of us would invite her to join the next group session. She would pass. The teachers figured it might take her a few days to get comfortable enough to join the group. Continue reading
When I took bridge lessons many years ago, our teacher asked us to go home and practice bidding. “Just look in the mirror,” he instructed us, “And say, ‘I pass.’ That is the bid that you’ll make most often. And that is the bid that will keep you out of trouble as a beginner.”
We don’t play bridge in my literacy or ABE classes, but I do teach people to say the magic phrase, “I pass.” My second classroom rule is “You can pass if you want to.” Continue reading
English: A bored person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Both Jenny and Evelyn commented on my last post, “Refuse to Be Bored” to the effect that the rule is easier to describe than to implement. I agree, because I know I found it difficult to learn to do.I’m writing this blog with the benefit of hindsight; and the rule about refusing to be bored, as I set it out in my post last week, did not come easy to me, nor did it fall into place all at once. I know that at first when students had the temerity to suggest that they didn’t want to do something, I got, as Jenny said, defensive. Continue reading
I don’t have many rules in my classroom, but the most important one is “Refuse to be bored.”
So when I say, on the first day of term, that the first rule is to refuse to be bored, students are surprised. For one thing, most adults going back to upgrade their skills expect to be bored. Their experience of school is one of large stretches of boredom, accompanied by more or less anxiety, and interspersed with flashes of panic. Why would my class be any different? Continue reading