Meditations on a Cogen

During the 2021-22 school year, I had weekly co-generative dialogues (or cogens) with my students. All of the cogens took place outside of class (lunch or after school) and run for 30 minutes. Each had two representatives from each of my three Regents-bound classes. Each participating student committed to attending six consecutive cogens before choosing a replacement.

I used this series of blogposts to process and summarize each cogen. My other posts on cogens can be found here.

September

No. 0 – Pre-school year thoughts on cogens
After a year of holding them remotely last year, I’m thrilled to explore the magic of in-person cogens this year. My excitement cannot dampen my concerns about timing.

October

No. 1 – Thursday, October 14, 2021
A hopeful start. We walk away from the initial cogen with a concrete action to improve our class.

No. 2 – Thursday, October 21, 2021
The discourse is productive and less awkward than last week. It helps that we had a change — a collective decision — to reflect on.

No. 3 – Thursday, October 28, 2021
A focus on tutoring and the in-class roundtable. Students seem to feel genuinely comfortable expressing their ideas.

November

No. 4 – Thursday, November 4, 2021
Started with a small experiment of mine and ended with me feeling like our 30 minutes together isn’t enough. The students were great.

No. 5 – Friday, November 12, 2021
Provided a needed space for my students to critique my metacognitive journal assignment. Their creativity was welcomed with open arms.

No. 6 – Thursday, November 18, 2021
Students give me feedback on the collaborative quizzes and we reflect on the journal assignment we co-created. We also welcome new members and say goodbye to others. An eventful 30 minutes.

December

No. 7 – Thursday, December 2, 2021
My students and I experience a healthy tension of ideas. I leave our talk cognizant of the mounds of feedback I’ve received from my cogen and how nonexistent it is from colleagues.

No. 8 – Thursday, December 9, 2021
We focus on finding ways to motivate students. Ends unexpectedly with a colleague of mine joining us around the table.

No. 9 – Friday, December 17, 2021
The path that led to it was probably more important than what we ended up discussing.

No. 10 – Friday, December 22, 2021
In a flashback to last year, this one took place on Zoom. I leave our talk thankful…and with a big dream.

January

No. 11 – Thursday, January 6, 2022
Got me thinking about ways to extend the reach of the cogen members beyond the cogen itself.

No. 12 – Thursday, January 13, 2022
Brings in new faces, great energy, and valuable suggestions for improving our class. Makes me forget that we are in the middle of a pandemic.

No. 13 – Thursday, January 20, 2022
Results in a classroom policy change around retakes and a personal reminder to stay proximal to my struggling students.

No. 14 – Thursday, January 27, 2022
Students deliver lots of constructive feedback on how quizzes look and feel.

February

No. 15 – Thursday, February 3, 2022
Valuable debrief of the Bingo lesson that I cotaught with five of the cogen students this week; coteaching is the next phase of the cogen.

No. 16 – Thursday, February 10, 2022
We select problems for an upcoming writing task and begin planning the cogen’s next cotaught lesson. A reminder that the cogen’s purpose extends beyond simply improving the classroom.

No. 17 – Thursday, February 17, 2022
We have a singular focus: to plan our 2nd cotaught lesson. We debate the details with energy and readiness. The students bring the fire!

March

No. 18 – Thursday, March 3, 2022
A new tradition begins at the cogen and the remainder of the session is dedicated to finalizing our lesson. Recruitment for the next cohort weighs on me.

No. 19 – Thursday, March 10, 2022
We hustle for 30 minutes to make our original board game, Infinite Levels, go from being a lofty idea to an exciting reality.

No. 20 – Thursday, March 17, 2022
The table bulges with new and old members. We debrief the Infinite Levels experience and take an unexpected turn to discuss the lack of diversity in grades. Plus, a colleague runs a cogen of her own. Yay!

No. 21 – Thursday, March 31, 2022
Cohort 4 meets for the first time. We talk pre-exam strategies and plant the seed for the next cogen-inspired lesson.

APRIL

No. 22 – Thursday, April 7, 2022
We spend a large amount of time debriefing our week-long farmer activity. The students offer actionable suggestions to improve it. I reveal the topic for the lesson we will coteach.

No. 23 – Thursday, April 28, 2022
We discuss a potpourri of topics to start, including the pre-exam review change the cogen students advised me on a month ago. They go hard learning about rational exponents in preparation for the upcoming lesson we will coteach.

MAY

No. 24 – Thursday, May 5, 2022
We continue hashing out details for our lesson on rational exponents. As June approaches, I contemplate the end of the cogen.

No. 25 – Thursday, May 12, 2022
We discuss the pedagogy that will drive our lesson. The opening task is mapped out. The energy is high, the mood productive.

No. 26 – Thursday, May 19, 2022
We make final preparations for our lesson and rearrange the furniture in the room. I’m disheartened that it is the last cogen of year and plan a reunion.

June

No. 27 – Wednesday, June 8, 2022
To bring closure to this unforgettable experience, every cogen student from the entire year returns for a “Cogen Reunion.” We eat pizza, do trivia, and raffle off prizes.

No. 28 – Post-school year reflections on cogens
Some final reflections and takeaways from the year. A lot happened in my cogens. As I close out the series, there’s so much to make sense of.

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