I concluded all of the individual interviews with an open-ended question leaving time available for the students to ask anything, about anything. They believe I will listen. I believe they will be honest.
The students also know that "I love questions." Most replied calmly without any. No surprise. Those who did ask did so with purpose. No surprise.
Where do you make the games we play in class?
What is your favorite sport to watch?
Will you teach us in 6th grade? (x3)
What will we learn after Chinese New Year? (x2)
How old are you? (x2)
How tall are you?
What is your baby's name?
Will the next semester be hard for us?
Do you like to teach 5th grade? Why?
What is your hometown's name?
Can we read the space story in the English Zone (our curriculum)?
This winter holiday, are you going to go to America?
What's your favorite sport to play? What's your favorite color?
Were you [misbehaving] when you were little?
Did you misbehave?
I've reminded the 5th graders a couple times this year about their initiative (It's off the wall!) but not too much because I don't want them to learn because of my compliments in lieu of their natural curiosity. Last semester, a few students contacted me via WeChat and QQ to pass on what they continued to examine at home. Presently, several more have written through blogs each class has.
The point is this: 20 out of 67 students asked me a question. Some may think I'm reading too much into this, but...hey, almost a third of my students asked questions. In Chinese culture, that's saying something. And this number has been growing over the past years while opportunities have been on the rise. As I was explaining to a colleague today, students have changed from when I started teaching five years ago. "How?" he wondered. I informed him succinctly that society is rapidly changing, therefore our children are too. How I taught my 2nd graders five years ago needs to be different from the 2nd graders I'm teaching currently. Why? The students aren't the same. The culture isn't the same. The resources have shot up exponentially. Today's possibilities are more than they were in the past, and the students want to make more things possible.
So the same way 20 of my students wanted to know more, I want to know more of how I can guide these students in a better education. I want to know them as individuals and collectively. I want to know what they know about each other and the world. I want to know what they want to know about. Lastly, I want to know what they're going to do about it.