So I began to challenge myself as I challenge you:
- look at your teaching how much time to you spend talking to the whole class! Dare you to time yourself! Or better give a good student a stopwatch to do it? You may be shocked! Harris got rid of whiteboards and made them into tables! (We've just bought some whiteboard paint to paint our tables)
-Are curriculum outcomes so driven by your school that you just push the students through and then create more students that need support? - Meeting the curriculum in Australia seems to becoming more difficult, as it is so overcrowded. Especially, in Primary Education where many teachers feel they simply have not enough time in the day to fit in all the learning. Trying to tick off all the boxes that the Government, Management team, community and parents keep asking for; the standardised tests, State and Federal; Mazono strategies; report card requirements; outcomes, essential learning and elaborations; National and State curriculum; pastoral care requirements, the list goes on.
It is time to look out for the student and to look at further ways to integrate learning, and see what is actually the "essential learning".
Rearranging the learning:
As Micro based teaching proved a winner in according to John Hattie's studies. Could I rearrange the class to allow this. Direct instruction is still effective and at times needed but it seems that it is better in small and poignant examples. Of course I could my school has a little flexibility for learning. So of course I just had to do something.
John Kennedy a former Australian Rules football coach made a famous address that challenged his players to "do don't think, at least you can go off that ground and say I did this I did that".. according to Harris the Icelandic Education commission have the same motto, Not that the Icelandic education system is one to reflect on but the challenge to stop thinking too much without actually changing to met the challenges of the 21st Century student is a good point. How can we teach students to be inquiry learners if we are not being that ourselves.
So my Learning process for our class changed to challenge the students to be more engaged in their own learning.
Student are to get more feedback, from peers and teacher and have more freedom to feel comfortable and in control of their learning. Not open but responsible.. inquiry but with direct instruction at stages.
Student choices: It was interesting to see the how students spread out around the class group table or small groups. The single desk "the Cave" was still popular on occasions when students wanted to focus on a difficult task. I noticed that collaboration and behaviour improved. There was a need for negotiation with students who failed to be engaged about what was the best seating group or place for them. I also noticed after 2 weeks cliques appeared so I changed days were the groups were mixed (teacher selection) or randomly selected.
There was a need to constantly revisit the learning process, some students found it hard to identify their own learning needs and need further teaching in this area. Being forced to check and question understanding was the key.
On board two challenges I wrote two question that we revisited constantly.
- What does it mean to be an engaged learner?
- What does it mean to be a reflective learner?
Interesting beginnings I wonder where it will lead.
Hopefully to engaged and reflective students.