Embracing the ‘S’ Word

I’ll never forget the first time I had a student come up to me and say, “Mrs. Krebs, so-and-so said the ‘S’ word!”

Oh, my, I thought. I was new to second grade at the time. I didn’t know what to do.

“Which one?” I mistakenly asked. Her precious little lips formed the first syllable of the forbidden word as she mouthed, “Stu…”

I actually don’t remember the rest of that story, but recently I used the ‘S’ word myself in an interview with Center for Digital Education.

I love the story Tanya Roscorla wrote about genius hour, “Google’s 80/20 Principle Applies to Students.” The amazing teachers from Canada, U.S., and Mexico–Gallit Zvi, Hugh McDonald, Juan DeLuca, Julie Jee–and my student, Meghan, were so professional and explained genius hour very well. Then I got to my quote, and I was embarrassed:

“It made all the difference when I stopped giving them stupid assignments that I chose.”

I didn’t like it that I had said “stupid assignments” in the interview. I thought I could have described assignments that I sometimes gave as boring or useless or tortuous or meaningless. But no, I said stupid. I told Tanya in a Twitter message that I wish I wouldn’t have said ‘stupid’ assignments. She didn’t suggest an edit, so I decided it was there for me to own.

And I do. I did give some stupid assignments. According to Dictionary.com, stupid can be synonymous with foolish, senseless, tediously dull, inane, pointless, annoying, irritating, troublesome.

Hmmm…yes, some of my assignments over the years have been annoying and irritating to students because they weren’t appropriate–they were too hard or I didn’t give students enough time to complete them adequately, so they raced through just to say they finished.

Some assignments were tediously dull. Sometimes even pointless. I have asked students to read a chapter and write the answers to questions at the end. I’ve passed out worksheets and word searches. And had students write a lot of spelling words.

And some assignments have been foolish and senseless. I came from the old school where we wrote sentences for punishment, and I am ashamed to say that I had stooped to that a few times in my early years of teaching.

So, now I’m embracing the ‘S’ word. I forever do not want to assign another STUPID assignment.

Genius hour, yes.

Choice, yes.

Challenge, yes.

Real-world problems, yes.

Learning, yes.

Most definitely, yes to learning!

5 thoughts on “Embracing the ‘S’ Word

  1. Great reflection!

    Your “stupid” quote cracked me up the first time I read it! We all are guilty of having assigned those types of assignments before. The good news is that we are doing that less and less! Yay!

    And yay for all the wonderful attention Genius Hour has received lately!

    Thanks again for sharing GH with all of us on twitter.
    You have made me a better teacher, Denise!


  2. Denise,
    Ha! I used to hear the same thing! Kids transcend time and space, but I’m happy to say we have left “stupid” assignments behind.

  3. Denise,
    Constantly reflecting – that’s what I love about you! We all say things sometimes that we didn’t quite mean. I think it is great that you further explained the “S” word because I think we are all guilty of those types of assignments. Trying to be conscious of those “S” assignments myself….

    Someday when we meet in person I will share my “S” word story and my “B” word story…both happened my first year of teaching and within a week of each other!!

    Take care and thanks for sharing!

  4. Denise, I thought it was odd that you used that word, but it makes sense when you explain it the way you do! You made me chuckle, and realize the truth of our work situations. I love how you reflect on your words and teaching… It’s part of what makes you such a good teacher and role model. đŸ™‚

  5. Gallit, JoAnn, Nancy, and Joy,
    Thank you all for smiling at my foibles. I have always reflected and processed deeply, but, I must say, it has become more rewarding to do it with members of my PLN. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being part of my life!


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