The most difficult challenge you will face when beginning your first GenWe Class is your new role. Students will be learning independently of a teacher, and helpful advice or critique unbidden may not be welcome. You can be brought up before the Judiciary Committee (JC) as easily as any of the students if you infringe upon the rights of the student set forth by the constitution.
You may see a lot of students trying and failing to master something, but it is this process, the learning by doing process many students desperately need and do not get anywhere else. A student who becomes frustrated with their project may welcome a few quick questions about what it is they are making and how it works, but not suggestions on how to fix the problem. How else will the students learn how to solve their own problems?
Bruce McLachlan, Principal of Swanson School of New Zealand - the No Rules School, took away the rules at recess because he believes kids should learn how to analyze risk in a safe environment. He asks the question, "When do you want a child learning how to make healthy choices, when they are eight and up a tree or when they are 21 and in a bar?" Teenagers need to learn these skills, and they are going to learn them when they are given the opportunity. The safest environment for them is when they are still in school.
Teachers in the GenWe Classroom have a lot of freedom to roam around and talk with the students. If the students have a screen free zone where they interact face to face talking about a plethora of subjects, joining them in their debates will add a broader point of view and push the boundaries of their thinking. Open discussions can help you learn a lot about the students and the things their generation are talking about. They can also hear from your experiences and understand more about the gap between their generation and yours.
Try reading out loud with your students. Sit in on the rotation and read with them. Suggest projects of your own and see if anyone is interested. If no one is, have a side project where they can see you working on something you are passionate about. Part of learning is watching. When they see their teachers in a more natural adult role, the role of a person who does something at a proficient level, they can learn a lot.
The imagination is limitless, and the ideas the students will bring forth will be infinite. If the project is something that should not be done in school, you must make the argument and bring in others to support the argument. The students will be allowed to present their idea to the others, and then the people you bring in can explain why the project cannot be done in school. The students will understand if it is something that cannot be done, and they will be happier about being able to make a case to defend their point of view. Adolescents and children deserve to have their voices heard.
The more you understand about fear-based reactions and moderating conflict, the better you can help the students get past the small stuff and explore the unknown. And remember, the constitution is not set in stone. Anything can be brought up at class meetings. The suggested time to hold class meetings is Friday. For a forty-five minute class, the meeting might take up the whole time, but a lot of good can happen at these meetings. Students can come and go from the meetings as well, as they are not mandatory to attend, unless the students make a rule saying otherwise. Voting is not mandatory, and students have the right and freedom to choose what is more important, voting on a new rule or letting someone decide for them while they explore something of interest.