Graduate students vs. 5th graders

There are clear differences to how teaching and learning differ at the elementary to graduate level, the biggest one being that in my class at night, we’re functional human beings with a sense of logic and hesitancy. However, there’s actually plenty of similarities between an adult graduate student and 5th grader. These are equally laughable, relatable, and ultimately, a testament to what makes learning both fun and a challenge.

    1. We get distracted by technology.
      I spend about 30% of my day telling students to get off Buzzfeed or stop repeatedly clicking the trackpad just because the Chromebook is frozen. However, I sit in class almost every week watching my classmates browse Instagram,  answer parent emails, and shop for extra supplies online instead. Technology is both a blessing and a curse. It’s provided so many different avenues for both groups to learn and discover….but at the same time, it’s incredibly difficult to stay focused when one click can get us on something slightly more fascinating than what we may be assigned to do.

    2. We will not stick to our own Google Slides.
      I distinctly remember an activity last year where students shared a Google Slides between them to present about a roller coaster they built. There was no shortage of arguing, crying, and tantrum-throwing over a teammate changing someone else’s font color, adding an unwanted picture, or typing on a slide that wasn’t delegated to them. Then again, in class last week, we were all supposed to be on our own slide for a presentation on preferred technology rubrics and, lo and behold, we ended up on each other’s slides several times. At least in my graduate class, there were no tantrums, just laughs.
    3. We get off topic.
      One rule I’ve made for myself is to never mention anything related to memes or pop culture with a group of 5th graders. It will start a conversation within the class that will be incredibly hard to stop. With a group of graduate teachers, we have our own topics that trigger a discussion no matter what we’re doing: data, overbearing parents, or PARCC.
    4. We question the world and let our minds be blown.
      Most of my students think that I know everything just because I’m an adult. Each group that I’ve told I’m still in school has responded with shock and confusion. How can I still have to learn when I’m already an adult with a job? I try to tell them that I have moments similar to the ones that they do. There’s nobody out there that completely understands how or why the world works the way it does. However, whether you’re ten or thirty, when a just part of the world makes sense than it did before, it feels quite satisfying.


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