Know what’s the BEST? (For me, anyway.) It’s when kids start to gain confidence in themselves and their abilities. This typically isn’t an overnight phenomenon – it’s not like they’re lacking confidence one day, and then WHAM, the next day they totally have it. It’s more subtle than that, but it’s visible if you look carefully. And sometimes it’s downright palpable.
Often, students aren’t even conscious of their confidence changing. It just sort of emerges from within, seemingly out of nowhere. But other people notice it right away because all of a sudden, they are willing. Willing to take a risk in a conversation. Willing to take a stab at something they used to shy away from. Willing to engage and to try.
We had some truly awesome high school students in our History of American Cinema class this summer. Jen Mogensen has taught this class for years, and it’s always a huge hit with our older students because the strategies she teaches are practical and squarely focused on some of the most essential skills needed in high school and beyond: reading comprehension, note taking, and studying.
For two weeks, students watch, discuss, analyze, and critique a bunch of films. They grapple with such things as plot, characterization, symbolism, historical contexts, and the writing, directing, acting, and cinematography choices of the film makers – the same sorts of things English teachers ask them to think about when they read literature. Jen teaches them strategies for organizing their thoughts and making sense of what they think, and these launch them into new worlds of critical thinking. Everyone involved has a blast.
Only four days into the class, Jen woke up to a treat in her Inbox:
I know I told you how much Sarah is enjoying your class, but I also want you to know about the changes I see in her. Sarah has gotten so much out of these first few days. Last night she was debating with her sister and Dad the meaning of Life of Pi. I couldn’t believe the confidence she had about her thoughts about the movie and how well she articulated her point. Many Thanks!
Subtle, but palpable to a mom. And soon, palpable to Sarah and her teachers, too.
Growing confidence. It’s the BEST!