I’ve been trying something with my class, trying to hand over more ownership and responsibility to them. It’s been thought provoking and challenging and humbling and rewarding.
I started small. Students individually signing up to workshops. This moved into students having a literacy block to plan and run independently. The next step was students planning their own timetable for an afternoon based on one of our current inquiries. And finally last week, the students planned their own timetable for an afternoon based on something that sparks their interest. We spent the week using classroom learning to provoke thinking and create a list of potential questions to investigate, which helped to guide the sessions.
Each time I’ve seen an increase in purposeful engagement, critical thinking, extended focus and meaningful collaboration. Amongst other things they are creating podcasts, co authoring books, exploring fractions, analysing suffixes and investigating how languages evolve over time. They are coming to realise that it’s about the thinking and the learning, and not about looking busy and working. They can see how their learning is becoming deeper and more connected. They’re moving in and out of collaboration naturally, discussing ideas and sharing thoughts and suggestions. The buzz in the room has grown each week as the students begin to find their flow.
Each time there have also been challenges. A few students who, even with support, have been stuck. I haven’t been able to conference with as many students as I’d like. Some students have been ‘working’ rather than learning. Some inquiries have just simply been unsuccessful. There have even been a couple of heated arguments along the way. On the flip side, each of these situations paved the way for authentic learning opportunities. How do we decide what is worth investigating? What matters to you as a learner? What effective strategies could we use to resolve conflict? How can a guiding question help focus our inquiries? How will you know when you’ve learnt something? What do you do when you get stuck? What self management strategies will help us? There’s a lot still to explore. As a learning community we’re really just at the beginning of this journey.
This week I’ve overheard multiple conversations about how personal learning time is the best part of every week. They are loving it, and I’ll continue to lean into the idea that my role is to foster curious learners and not produce compliant students.