Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Walking a fine line...

Over the past two days, these questions have been driving our own end of day reflections.  A task that I would have guessed to take 2 - 3 hours, has spanned across two full days.  As I think about how I would have taught this last year, I realise that although I provided a lot of choice, I was really the driving force  - this year, we are aiming for the students to be the driving force of their own learning, deciding (with some gentle nudging) what steps they need to take to achieve the goal they set.

So back to this week - challenge - that will be my word to sum up it up.  I found the balance between students driving their learning and wanting to step in a bit of a juggling act.  Where do we (the professionals entrusted with their education) step in and when do we back off? What if certain students do not step up and own their learning, who drives the bus then?  As a teacher, how much am I saying/ influencing/ implying throughout a given day - how much is too much, what if it is not enough? What about the things I don't say? 

Yes, things take a lot longer, but hopefully the outcome will be greater ownership from the students of the process and products produced.

I guess the proof will be in the pudding....

Sunday, March 3, 2013

UNschool ME

Honeymoon over, time for action.  It has been just over a month since starting the school year and we have been going slowly, slowly finding our feet, which has been great, but it is time to start challenging our thinking - why were we doing the things we were doing, were we falling back into old, 'safe' habits that we have been used to?  It amazes me the default you can easily fall back into if you don't have people challenging what your doing and your thinking behind your plans.  Last week, we were challenged - in our thinking - why were we doing what we were doing?  Does this fit with our school philosophy? Are we defaulting to the one-fit-for-all model?  In some instances, I think we were going down that path.  Our goal is to offer a personalised, student-centered learning experience for ALL students - so why were we doing things such as getting all the students sitting in the one configuration for our morning meeting, why did all students sit on the same type of seat for this?  Why???

Great question - so getting ready for Monday morning.  For the first time in my teaching career, I have no plans for Monday, or Tuesday or Wednesday for that matter, Thursday is looking pretty much the same - blank!  As we (senior learning common team) sat down to plan out our week, last week, we thought back to the discussion we had - why are we doing what we are doing, are the students in control of their own learning?  We have decided to plan with the students on Monday.  Include them in the decisions we make.  Model what collaborative planning looks like, how working relationships...work.  We purposely did not plan anything, we haven't even talked about what it will look like as we want this to be as authentic as possible - and it sure will be!

So I dampen the voice of a the uni lecturer saying "detailed [weekly] planning is the key to successful week" and go into Monday's uncharted waters...what will the week bring? Watch this space to see....