Before you teach the brain, you must reach the heart to teach the whole person.

As the year starts up again, one of my goals is to provide an environment of empathy.  Empathy is an important aspect in education as it allows us to know our students well- their strength, needed improvements, interests, fears, likes, dislikes, family life, neighborhood life . . . THEIR STORIES.  Accessing this information about our students informs our learners that we care about them as a whole person rather than just a student.  Educating the brain is not enough, as the heart needs to know whether or not the educator and environment is safe, caring, and nurturing.  Our students want to know if we care about their growth.  This shift is a necessary component of our pedagogy.

Having this information allows us to figure out ways to hook our students into the learning experience.  If a learning experience is boring and uninteresting, it’s most likely because there is no access point in which the students can enter the learning experience.  So we as educators, now researchers, detectives, or empathize-rs need to perform some data collection about our students.

How might we collect this information from our learners?

Now is the perfect time to plan that strategy out.  I attended an AVID training in cultural relevancy in 2016.  In the workshop, there was so much strategies that I had to back up and choose which strategies best fits the structures of my STEAM class and there I found the  I Am Poem.  In the workshop, I developed an I Am Poems called Dark Caramel.  But for our students, they were given a generic poetic format that they can use.  The I Am Poem is a poetic structure in which our learners express who they are, the environment they live in,  things that achieved, things that they worry, and more.   Because it’s a S.T.E.A.M. class, I want to leverage technology so that student are practicing file management, computer guideline and procedures,  and digital citizenship.   This is a great way to start off the year so that our student feel successful in practicing the series of preliminary skills as it related to planning, development, and project management but also successful in sharing out a piece of themselves to our community.

Below is an example of an I Am Poem.

Using Adobe Spark

This I Am Poem was developed in Adobe Spark which relatively has a very low learning curve.  The great thing about it is that you can download it on your iPad/Android as an app in addition to using it on your PC/Mac.  You can produce content in less than 30 minutes easily as it provides you with music, themes, backgrounds, and an interface that is easy to learn.  In my opinion, Adobe Spark is more engaging than your standard PowerPoint or Google Slides.


Now I challenge you to figure our the stories of your learning.  Most importantly, I also challenge you to somehow use their stories as a way of bridging their prior experiences to the learning experience in the classroom.  Happy Teaching!

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