Monday, June 12, 2017

If you are doing most of the work; then you are doing most of the learning.

Is it your classroom or OUR classroom? If we think about it as OUR classroom it is easier to see when we are taking too much control and doing too much of the decision making.

Picture from Disruptive Behavior:
"Breaking Up With Status Quo" 
Traditional teaching leads to traditional learning. It is time to reflect and think about how we can let go of micromanaging or how to leave the status quo.

How many of you get mad because the students didn't buy in to one of your micromanaging procedures? Think about that procedure. The procedure where they can only leave to the bathroom so many times per quarter. The procedure where they can only use a black pen. The procedure for taking notes the one way you taught them. Do they have to write a paper with 1,050 words? Do the students have to sit in rows in alphabetical order? Which of these procedures are you willing to let go?

Think about the restaurant you would like to frequent. Would you rather frequent the restaurant that only has one item for the appetizer, main dish and dessert, the restaurant that offers a few items for each category on the menu, or even the restaurant that has many pages as part of their menu?

We must allow choice for our students if we want them to want more. Buy-in becomes greater when students are part of the discussion, the problem-solving and decision making. If students have a voice and choice they start seeing the classroom as "our" classroom and we will find that motivation for learning and buy-in will be easier to achieve.

How can we let go of micromanaging?

1.  Allow for learning as a collaborative effort sitting in stations; not being told by one expert as they sit in rows. Research backs this up. This could include experiences such as problem based learning or scenario based learning.

2. Allow for "21st century" (I prefer to use the term "essential") skill development, especially the 4 Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity. How can we add more opportunities for these essential skills in the experiences we provide students?

3.  Allow the students to choose class mantra to be reminded how we want to be. Choose student quote of the week. Who lived by it the most that week gets to take it home.

4. Allow students to create the criteria for the rubric in which they will be assessed.

5. We must allow students to set their own goals, reflect often, and assess themselves. The goal should be to create life long learners continually growing. This is an improvement focus, not once and done approach. Have they grown in what they know and are able to do? We need more than providing them with a number or letter grade.

6. They should not be allowed to say "I'm done" but rather "How can I make this better?" or "What else can I add?" Assessments should expect students to show that they challenged themselves to try something new. How can you prove to me that you learned and did something new? How are you going to prove to me that you got uncomfortable and pushed yourself beyond what you already know and can do? Students that are off task should reflect and answer "What actions or resources do I need in order to learn today?"

7. Allow students to design the classroom layout and create the rules and procedures. What do they think about how often then can leave the classroom?

8. Allow them to have an audience besides the teacher or each other for their work. They are all using social media and want an audience. How can they share their work and people "like" their work to boost their confidence? They can lead us on this journey of unfamiliar territory.

9. If we want them to be leaders and active contributing members in society then offer them opportunities to connect content to the real world. Allow them an opportunity for "Genius Hour" and have a "Leadership Fair" showcasing their work to the community at the end of the year. Is there someone willing to help a student take their work to the next level?

10. Allow students to discuss how they can prove to me that they know and can do the current standard?  How can we communicate with your parents through a grade that you are growing in what you know and are able to do? How do we ensure that our grades are reflecting the intended learning outcomes/standards? Did your effort and work deserve this grade? How do we show growth; not failure? Ken O'Connor states that students, in the end, become more self-directive and reflective learners not grade grubbers.

How can we let go of micromanaging? How can we leave what is status quo? How can we not look like this Peanuts scene from 1969?

Please add more ideas for allowing student voice and choice in the comments below.

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