9/9/09 — Okay, it goes against everything you stand for as a teacher — destroying your students’ work. Early this morning, before the class arrived, I smashed each of their pots that they had lovingly decorated and proudly brought into class. As I take the hammer to another bag, I do feel guilty, but I know the learning involved after they are smashed will wash away my guilt. “So class, do not open your bag until I instruct you to do so.” I announce to the class. When I give the word to open their bags, one student cries out “Oh no, it’s broken.” Similar cries echo throughout the room. Earlier in the lesson, we had discussed the role of both archaeologists and anthropologists. Now, it’s the students’ turn to become these roles. Some of the pots can be put back together pretty quickly with a minimum of tacky glue and clothespins. However, other pots are really challenging and this is where the real learning takes place. Those who finish early jump in to help their struggling classmates. Even those who are after an hour, really frustrated, still have a smile on their face and are no where close to throwing in the towel. At the end of the lesson, I pull the class back together and ask them “why did I do this lesson?” The answers range from because “we are learning about an ancient civilization” to “because this is a ‘together’ project” to “we got to know more about one another.” As the teacher, I learned this class has already become a team after four days of school, that they are kind and caring towards one another, and that they don’t give up. So as I sit here blogging, and gluing one student’s pot back together, I no longer feel guilty, but satisfied at what great potential this class holds.