Thursday, January 28, 2016

"That Class is Easy."

*Note: I published this exact same post over on my teaching blog, but felt it was a good post to have over here as well.

I felt compelled to write this post today for so many reasons, but the main one finally pushing me to do it happened yesterday.  You see, it's course selection week here at the high school I teach at, and all of the freshman, sophomores, and juniors are carefully plotting out the classes they will take in 2016-2017.  In talking with another teacher yesterday, she was telling me about a conversation she was having with one of her students about what courses to take next year.  The student told her she was going to sign up for Computer Apps (one of the classes I teach) because, "That class is easy."  Immediately my defenses went up and I felt the need to justify and defend my course to my fellow teacher.  How dare they say my class is easy!  It most certainly is not...wait, is it really actually easy?!

That conversation stuck with me, because obviously students at my school think my class is easy.  And you know what?!  It is.  It truly is an "easy" class, but I loathe, no I HATE that it is referred to as that.  Why?!  Because even though the content we are covering may be being labeled "easy" by it's takers, it most is more than just an easy class: it's a practical one.  It's one that the content learned in here can be transferred and applied into every.single.one. of their other courses, and even into their lives outside of school.  It prepares them for the tasks they'll have to complete in their future schoolings and even college!  So yes, it may be easy, but it most certainly is not JUST that.  It is applicable.  It is practical.  It teaches skills that will be used in countless other areas of their education and lives.

Generally my students do very well in my classes, and I always get the comments that, "If everyone has an A, then you must not be challenging them enough" --translation: your class is too easy.  Again, this irks me the wrong way.  And I actually secretly wish my classes were pass/fail because of this.  Anyways, again, when people make these comments, I immediately go defensive teacher and feel the need to justify to them that that is NOT the case at all, that they are learning practical application skills.  You blow your tire and get a mechanic to fix it.  They fix it = you're good to go.  They don't fix it (or don't fix it right) = they failed and you're still stuck...until they make it right.  Thus is the jam for my class: students do the work = they pass.  Students don't do the work (or do it incorrectly) = they don't pass...until they make it right.  My classes are "tech" classes after all.

The next time someone tells me my classes are easy or that I'm not challenging my students enough, I'm pointing them to this blog post.  I teach 3 different classes: video production, computer graphics, and computer applications, and what I've said here applies to all of them.  Yes, they may be labeled "easy", but the are so much more than that.  They are...

THIS.

& THIS.









& THIS.

& THIS.

...and so much more.  We learn the ins and outs of all things Google.  We learn how to build a website from scratch, learn how to create an interactive timeline and story map, and learn how to use social media to organize and prep for projects.  We do lessons on how to take good pictures with your cell phone called iPhoneography, we learn what mobile journalism is and how it applies to the daily lives of high schoolers, we learn how to shoot, record, edit, and finalize movies in a complex editor, and we learn how to manipulate images and create new ones using Photoshop.  Every.single.one. of these skills and content we do in my class are used elsewhere in our school--and then even outside of it.  They are applying and transferring the knowledge they learn and acquire in my class to others.  Call my class fun, exciting, enjoyable, creative, hands-on, time-consuming, challenging, frustrating, engaging--but don't call it easy.  It's so much more than that.

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