Welcome to another issue of UnBoxed! We hope you will enjoy this collection of essays, reflections and reports about passion, purpose and practice in education.
Four of our contributors reflect on the impact of student-teacher relationships and the importance of honoring student voice and building trust in order to create that safe space needed for students to take risks and grow. Using both traditional and nontraditional forms of writing instruction, Sheldon Krieger explores the balance between honoring a student’s “home” language and identity and providing him with the written and verbal skills he needs to succeed in the professional, or “downtown,” world. John Paull reflects back to the moment where a student taught him what it meant to teach—and how one student’s engagement in something as small as a spider turned a class around and created a room full of scientists and researchers. Michelle Clark provides an honest account of her struggles to “manage the tension between freedom of thought and focused and intentional dialogue” around issues of race and privilege, especially in her situation as an African American teacher in a room full of white students. Patrick Yurick shares a heartbreaking reflection on the death of his student and the pedagogical lessons that emerged from that experience, realizing that every moment he has with his students is important and must be “worthy of our students’ time.”
Other contributors ask us to rethink some of our ideas around some current instructional trends. Randy Scherer challenges the idea of a dedicated maker space, arguing that “making” should happen in every classroom. He offers his version of what it means to be a maker in a humanities classroom and the impact this has on his students. Wesley Davidson echoes Randy’s thoughts when he looks beyond the value of exhibition to the importance of every student having a sustained purpose throughout the days and months leading up to exhibition. Both of these educators see the value both academically and emotionally in creating an environment where every student feels a sense of purpose and importance beyond a grade.
Finally we have several contributors who offer their perspectives about how to make the classroom a more impactful space. Jal Mehta recounts a lively debate with a colleague about the value of depth in instruction versus breadth, and Robert Sternberg offers some advice for those educators hoping to make their classrooms a more creative space.
The UnBoxed cards in this issue offer glimpses of projects and practices that we find inspiring. These cards are freely available on our UnBoxed website in a printer-ready format. Simply print, fold, share and discuss. Each card refers the reader to a web address for further information.
We wish to thank the K-12, university and other educators who have reviewed our submissions for this issue and offered invaluable counsel. We invite all of our readers to join us in conversations about teaching, learning, design and leadership by submitting your thoughts for publication or serving as a peer reviewer. To learn more, visit www.hightechhigh.org/unboxed
Our next submissions deadline is Monday, March 7, 2016