Starting next week, on Mondays and Wednesdays rather than going to their homeroom class, our students will go a 25 minute enrichment class. The classes will meet for the duration of the 2nd quarter.
What types of Enrichment will we offer?
When I saw the enrichment classes being offered I was jealous of our students. They have choices ranging from math in sports to yoga to cooking classes. A course catalog was offered to the students and they selected their top choices, Each student was guaranteed enrollment in one of their top three classes.
One of the biggest questions I've heard from adults and students alike is "WHY?" Why are we doing this? It's a more than valid question. Here are some of the reasons why enrichment can be valuable to a school. For me personally, I think it allows us to build collaborative culture by getting to know new students in different learning settings. It allows kids and teachers to reset and re-energize in the middle of the day -- as they learn to think in new ways as they learn about new subjects, which in the end might make the rest of the time in school more productive. I also think if done right that it gives students ownership. This is not a class with a set curriculum so you can allow students to guide the process and the learning. Additionally I believe that electives can be a large part of what make kids want to be in school (and I say that as a non-elective teacher), and yet all too often students who need extra help in core subjects give up electives for courses that they need in order to build key skills in areas like reading and math. The program we will launch next week ensures that all students receive enrichment. Lastly, it has the potential to turn the teachers into learners and the learners into teachers as we explore new topics together.
But you really don't have to take my words for it. Here's what research says and I will just leave it right here for you to peruse, ponder, and make your own judgements.
It also means more time planning for 50 minutes of instruction, which can seem overwhelming to some, when a teacher's greatest and most limited resource seems to be time. Also, some students who already feel overburdened are remarking to me that they will miss their time to complete homework. Others feel that they already have enough enrichment outside of school. And these are only the challenges that have come up before the program is up and running.
We won't know if we don't try
I strongly believe and I don't think I am alone in thinking this that we need to move away from emphasis on testing and focus on the whole child. Our county recently has emphasized the Portrait of Graduate -- acknowledging that we want our students to become independent thinkers who are principled, balanced and reflective. To me, enrichment (if done right) offers a chance to make that happen in new ways. Like so many teachers, I love to learn. If this program sparks the love of learning in a child, or adds more sparks to the kid who already loves to learn, it will be worth it to me. After all (as much as it pains me) I know that later in life students may not regularly use the content knowledge they have learned in my class, but they will all use the drive to learn more and the skills that learning entails no matter where life takes them.
You haven't heard the last of this
Gretchen and I started this blog in large part because we feel as educators that it is part of our life's work to be reflective what is happening in our classrooms and libraries and to share those reflections. How can educators get better if we aren't truthful about what we do and how we do it in our learning spaces? In that vein, we will be checking in with our readers about enrichment later in the year to share what's working and what isn't.
And now, I need to go grab my yoga mat. Enrichment is about to begin,
PS. Does your school have an enrichment program? We'd love to hear about any and all enrichment challenges and successes!
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