Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Would you want to be a learner in your classroom?

This summer I had the pleasure of reading George Couros’s book, The Innovator’s Mindset, and it was wonderful! It was as if the author took my heart and passion for teaching and wrapped it up in his book. It left me inspired and reflective of my teaching practices. As the new school year is beginning, I’m continuing to consider a key question posed in the book:

Would you want to be a learner in your classroom?

This question made me pause to consider my own needs as a learner. Sure, I could sit in just about any classroom and comply by taking notes, completing assignments, and taking tests... but is that what I want for my learning experience? Not really.

As a learner, I value choice, inspiration, laughter, community, tasks with true purpose, and opportunities to express my creativity. I believe that our classrooms should be full of the curiosity and wonder that comes so naturally to children.

Unfortunately, we have lost that somewhere along the way- valuing compliance over curiosity and individuality. Perhaps we hold expectations for our students that we ourselves would dislike and find difficult to meet.

During our very first day of school, I asked my students about their ideal classroom. Their responses are captured in this word art.

Over the past three years I’ve made many changes to my classroom that I would love as a student. I plan to continue implementing these changes and expanding these aspects of my classroom:

Gamification with Classcraft
Avatars, point scoring, leveling up, collaboration, community building, and so much more. Classcraft has helped to transform my classroom community....and it’s so much fun!
Students explore their interests and help to direct their own learning while creating some pretty amazing projects. 
Students spend independent time learning online in connection with small group instruction. 
Students take on quite a bit of responsibility to self-assess and direct their own learning.

As the school year starts, what changes do I need to make in my classroom to ensure the learning experience I value so highly is also available for my learners? From implementing a new curriculum to seating charts and classroom procedures, I’m beginning to consider these decisions from a student’s perspective more than ever to ensure a student-centered classroom.

One area of my classroom that I would dislike as a student is our morning procedure. Of course, procedures help things run more smoothly, but my previous expectation of entering the classroom quietly and starting work right away with little social interaction is something I want to get away from. As an adult, I enjoy greeting my colleagues in the morning and catching up with them briefly. I’m currently searching for new ideas for this part of our day, and I welcome your suggestions!

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