This is the last of seven posts written by Dr. Tibby Lynch. This post was written in May 2010. I have included it as part of my 21st century pygmalion series of posts.
One of my worries as I launched this project was whether students, having access to each other’s daily NING writings, would simply read the first posting and reword an answer. Interestingly, this was never a problem. The students came to cultivate a kind of pride about the quality and originality of their own postings. There were even efforts to find different textual evidence for the same questions. I also saw fewer mechanical errors even though I had told the kids that my primary consideration for daily work would be content, thoughtfulness, and preparation for class discussion.
Last night I went back to the beginning, and read through all of the NING postings. It was fascinating to see the evolution of student thinking over the course of an academic year. I could see some kids stumble and struggle and then find their stride, while others started strong and tapered off when the college acceptances began to arrive. I could see the coinciding of personal and academic interests as high school began to draw to a close. I could see some of my second language challenged students beginning to develop a voice and a point of view despite the grammatical errors. Most of all I could see myself as a teacher, sometimes faltering – not explaining things particularly well or unwittingly communicating my own prejudices – but sometimes nailing it, providing just the right amount of inspiration to allow the kids to arrive at their own conclusions.
It’s a record of a process, not of an end product, and it’s worth the whole experience.