So I've been looking back through the website now that my third year as a teacher is winding down (43 days till summer!)
I have been working with game mechanics in my classroom management for the past two years now and I've learned a lot about what motivates and what stifles students (especially students who are normally Defiant).
Working with students who are defiant feels like home court for me. I was the kid trying to check the Anarchist Cookbook out of Floyd Central's library while I was there.
Most of my disenfranchised students became unwilling to work with Public Ed. through years of being passed around from school to school, or by, in my words, allowing their behavior to be the excuse that their teacher uses to not teach them.
Five minutes of misbehavior in a classroom can often end with a day in ISAP or hours of conversations with authority when students aren't correctly managed in the classroom (something I'm still working on as a 3rd year teacher).
Part of what keeps my students from railing against my authority as their teacher is the "Kierkegaardian Freedom" their homework assignments present them with.
They have a nearly limitless (if you count "The Visionary" an assignment where they design a rubric for other students) number of possible homework assignments to choose from.
All of these assignments have commonalities that allow me to grade them under English or Creative Writing, but it is this freedom of choice that students feel, that makes the assignments meaningful not just as classwork, but as self-driven inquiry into a subject that interests my students.
Kierkegaard talks about how the "anxiety" induced by being aware of many possibilities that are presented to us as people. He discusses how this drives us to choose between the myriad of options and thus, find who we truly are.
I buy this. I believe that without choice in their education, students are doomed to become rote memorization machines who can only solve problems that other people put into easily digested formulas.
When students determine the setting of their learning, they have the home court advantage and will cement lessons on Research, Writing, or Mechanics.
Let me know what you think, and have a solid day!