MY MORNING BRAIN DUMP - THINKING ABOUT COLLABORATION, CONNECTION AND ACTION
As an educator the lessons I enjoyed most were not the ones I slaved hours over preparing, Those ones inevitably failed to be as great as I had envisioned - mainly because the lovely young folk I taught could not always understand why I wanted them to bask in my greatness and to feel the hours of works I had put into creating those resources for them... No doubt they left with some knowledge but it was knowledge I had isolated, crafted and homogenised into a single 48 minute lesson. My favourite lessons were the ones were I provoked the students - got them thinking, got the contributing, getting them excited, angry, passionate and they are the lessons we were empowered and remembered - and these collaborations often led them to more exciting art projects and even deeper, creative thinking.
The best collaborations (lesson suggests limited learning outcomes, collaboration suggests working together to discover and grow) were those where I did not underestimate my students capacity to think, challenge and engage with relevant intriguing content. The best collaborations are those where students work with me and their peers to identify what they want to learn about and I help them explore this - making mistakes and learning along the way. As a professional I know what is in the curriculum and I know how to help students learn - when to provide help, how to extend high achievers, how to ensure a text is accessible for a variety of learners, how to set up a task so learners of all ability can achieve, when to provide different perspectives - in short how to teach and to do it well.
Being a VCE teacher I understand there is a lot of content to get through. But if we could change up the way we did things using eLearning ideas, innovative resources and curriculum modelling that empowers learners, we could cover the content but also foster curiosity, metacognition, appreciation of diversity, reflection, empathy, entrepreneurship and all those other things that make confident, connected learners.
Yes - sometimes you do just need them to know how to do something skill based or do need them to know the content, vocabulary, formula and this is the reality. As a professional you know what they need to know and strategies and ideas to help them understand that. But if we could actually foster an ongoing, genuine interest in the content we could provoke the next generation into thinking and action using our thinking, questioning and structuring skills. What if the content was modern, drawn from real life and allowed for choice and scope in the topic explored and the depth required? I would argue the skills and content required can be crafted through genuine engagement and thinking around challenging ideas.
Learning is empowering when focussing on relevant, inquiry based questions we want to know more about, where teachers we set up the structures, the environments, the conversations, the challenges, the curiosity and act as a coach when needed, a collaborator when needed and a co learner with students. Learning is rad when all students have access to it, are engaged in it through thinking and creating and it is relevant to them - each one of them!
Not Underestimating Our Youth - Some Ideas link