Anxiety and Meaningful Experiences

We started a new unit today.  Each time I begin a new unit, I find myself anxious and this time was no different.  I find myself making sure that the expectations are being upheld and that students are still making choices and decisions guided by teaching and conferencing.  I also like to consider the other experiences they have has thus far, in my class but also in orher classes.

This time, I know that my hesitation to start this unit is because I fear that they will be bored before they start due to work they did in their humanities class.  Now, each time, I have anxiety like this which I couple with extra preparation, I leave wondering why.  The kids are resilient and when you present things in a new way, it is exciting to them.  They are also naturally curious and they have a voice in the world,  they only eed the opportunity to share it.  And regardless of the unit, I give them opportunity to do these things, so I should be confident as we embark on a new journey.
So, we started nonfiction reading by previewing texts with topics like global warming, digital citizens, school  lunches, and cyber-bullying.   Paired with opportunities to talk with peers and contribute to class topics, they came up with ideas like school curriculum (AP/IB), technology in schools, celebrity culture, and social media.  Really the only requirements they had was to find a critical issue (i.e. something they are passionate about, something that is important to them and to others, and something that has evidence).  When given the opportunity to define their passion they had strong feelings and became very thoughtful.  They pulled from past experiences and grew even further. In the end, my anxiety was unnecessary because kids are awesome and the community we’ve created allows a meaningful experience.
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4 thoughts on “Anxiety and Meaningful Experiences

  1. Starting a new unit can definitely leave one feeling anxious!! It’s always interesting how it will be received. I can tell by this post that you care a lot about making learning fun and valuable for your students!

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  2. Have you ever shared with your students that you feel anxious when you start a new unit? I wonder what they would think? It seems so parallel to what students feel. It might lead to a very interesting discussion about anxiety!

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  3. Kids are always surprising us, aren’t they! I also teach 8th grade language arts, and I love reading the experiences of other teachers in the wild world of middle school English. Even though it always ends up being my favorite unit of the year, I always get a little anxious about the start of our Romeo and Juliet unit because I expect a lot of resistance. Every year, though, my students and I surprise each other with our enthusiasm for the play.

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