With a new year ahead our staff have decided to have one word – one word to reflect on and set our teacher inquiry goals towards. My word for this year is…
For the last 7 out of 9 years as a teacher I have been pretty passionate about developing young people as independent learners. I first saw this in action with a legendary teacher next door who I hold in VERY high regard to this day. She was, and still is, a master at shaping and inspiring children to take more responsibility for everything they did. And BOY did they ever. Even when their learning went pear shaped they somehow all had an internal drive and resolve to be better next time. Isn’t this what we want for all of our students?
Over the holidays I found this chart, from the engagedlearning.co.uk site that was the challenge and inspiration for this year’s word. Not only was it the first time I had heard of anything beyond ‘Pedagogy’ in the classroom but I was also incredibly challenged about the practice I foster in my class. It also gives me 2 more words to throw around when I want to sound smart.
It seems to me that one of the differences between a teacher led approach and a self determining one are found in the answer to, ‘Who owns the learning?’ It also seems to me that if a student is going to be truly motivated then they will have found ownership of it, whether they have prompted it or not.
So, the drive for me this year is to develop new approaches that will scaffold and assist students to make progress towards truly owning their learning. I’m becoming fully aware of two possible tensions.
1. Maintaining a balance between being ‘the teacher’ and ‘a coach.’
There is a great debate amongst teachers about how much knowledge you should be passing on to students and how much you should be leaving them to discover for themselves. Are we the sage on the stage or the guide on the side. I am a great believer that there are things that students simply don’t know- and they usually don’t know that they don’t know. This year I’m going to be searching for the balance or the sweet spot between these 2 approaches.
2. Inspiring parents and their children that this is possible.
I believe that every child has a certain amount of potential to take ownership of their learning – at 9 and 10 years of age. I know a great many students who are in our class this year who already do just that. I also know that many children are more ready to reach this potential in a few years time. What I will be working at is demonstrating to parents that I have the systems and support in place to meet every child where they are. If they need more support then we will have that for them. In the posts to come I’ll be sharing some of the systems that have worked in the past and also some of the initiatives we are working on.
But here are a few of the things we’ll be working on.
- Holding reading / writing / maths groups as self selected workshops for students working across curriculum levels but with a common learning goal.
- Developing eportfolios and reflective journals using Ultranet and Google Apps / Hapara.
- Visiting forward thinking schools and classrooms using similar learning andragogy.
- Integrating student passion projects into our weekly learning programmes.