I think I forgot what it was like to be a high school student. I figured the only way to really know was to become one. So I did. Today I was a student at ACS Secondary. Just for a day. (Read Part One)
Part Two: TAKE YOUR SEAT, A day with Grade Nines
My day started with a late slip, an embarrassing walk to the front of class, and then devotions.
It was a BABs day. BABs stands for Big Audacious Blocks. (I don’t know what the letter S stands for except to make it plural. Most students don’t know what any of the letters stand for.)
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the schedule combines two blocks and students get one subject, all morning or afternoon. BABs blocks allow teachers to do labs, work on projects, go on field trips, have extended amounts of time for things without interruptions.
“What do you think of BABs blocks?” I asked the student next to me during a break in the lesson.
“Mostly good, except when we have to sit for a long period of time,” they explained enthusiastically, glad to be asked.
Today, I was sitting in on Humanities 9, which combines Bible 9, English 9, and Social Studies 9, rotating all the students through three teachers. This rotation was with Mr. DeJong.
He read from a short essay. It was a deep concept. An analogy-essay about where babies come from.
It wasn’t until he was half-way finished that I realized it was an analogy to describe where the “world” came from. We don’t argue about the creation of babies and where they come from. But, people have their own opinions about where the planet came from and how humanity came to live upon this earth; our own Christian worldview begins with this Creator concept.
It was deep. Mr. DeJong finished and asked the class if they knew what the author was talking about. I seriously wondered if anyone in the room was getting it. Several students raised their hands and intelligently described the whole metaphor. I was impressed. It was terrific. I liked this intense thinking so much, I kind of wish I could learn from Mr. DeJong every day. (Truth be told, I do learn from him nearly every day because he comes by my office regularly and challenges my thinking on a whole host of issues.)
We moved on to group work. I asked two girls next to me if I could join their group and we worked our way through the assignment. I loved it. Group work is fun and these girls were driven to complete the assignment before the break. We almost did, but by then, I had been sitting for almost 4 hours—two hours on the bus and two hours in class. If there is one thing I am going to tell my staff it is this: every 30 minutes have the class walk around or do something to get the blood flowing again. All the students were happy to take a break. I was too. I grabbed an orange from my lunch and ate it in the lobby with some other students.
After the break we went to the computer lab and worked on an assignment using the internet and Microsoft Word. We were asked to explain the pervasive worldview in an object, an advertisement, or an image. It was a challenging assignment. I finished it just as the bell rang for lunch. I can tell you that the last half of the BABs block went so fast, but by lunch I was very tired. Learning is hard work!
Three things impressed me about my morning.
- I loved the engagement of the mind that I experienced in an ACS classroom. We have amazing teachers here. I am glad the first two words of our mission statement say “Engaging minds.”
- I loved working with students. There are some absolutely terrific grade 9 students in our school.
- I loved how friendly our students were to the “new student” – me. They were friendly on the bus, friendly in class, and super friendly in the lobby. I love this school.
I walked to the lobby and found a grade 11 student who lent me her study sheet for the socials 11 test I was going to have to take after lunch. It was two pages long, and there was a lot of content.
How was I going to learn all of this in 20 minutes while I ate my sandwich?
I asked some students to help me. They seemed to know the material very well and had obviously studied hard. I skimmed Wikipedia on World War One on my iPad, asked the students about every bullet point on the study sheet and then made my way up to class.
I won’t lie. I was nervous about this test. I didn’t want to do poorly. It has been a long time since I had that feeling and it was good for me to remember how it feels going into a hard test.
The bell rang, Mr. Naayer prayed, and then handed out the tests. I settled in to show him how much I could learn in 20 minutes during lunch. I looked around the room. There were some sympathetic smiles…and we got to work.
NEXT MONTH: Find out how Mr. Goertzen did on his test….