It’s a week before #ecoo13 and I’ve just finished the slides for my presentation and now I’m reflecting. When I submitted an application to present at #ecoo13, I was trying to think about aspects of education that I don’t think are discussed or considered enough, but also what I personally enjoy about the conference. I actually struggled for a good long time and submitted pretty much right at the deadline, but the idea of co-learning with students (not colleagues) is a topic that I think gets lip-service but isn’t practiced in many classrooms. I also love the face to face conversations that I have with people in my PLN and other attendees so that is what my presentation will contain.

I have to be honest, though, I am not an expert on this topic and there is actually very little research on learning with students. Most of the research centred on learning with colleagues or supporting students as they learned, but not learning alongside students. The lack of information got me thinking and reflecting on my own practice. Do I learn alongside my students? The answer I think is both yes and no. I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know” but there are many times where when I know I’m going to be discussing something with students that I’m not completely familiar with, I do some background research. What would class be like if I didn’t do the background research? Would I lose credibility with the students or gain it? Are we ready in education for this kind of model? Historically, teachers have been the keepers of the information and even though the internet has blown this idea out of the water, the antiquated model of “the teacher” still exists.

In essence, what I’m hoping is that a variety of people choose to attend my session and we engage in a deep dialogue about what co-learning can look like in all different kinds of classrooms. I’m a secondary English teacher and I have ideas about how the English curriculum allows us to learn with our students but I have no idea what it would look like in a Math or Science or elementary interdisciplinary classrooms, but I would love to learn.

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2 thoughts on “Not an Expert #ecoo13

  1. I love this discussion idea! I wish I could be at your session (I’m co-presenting about blogging in the classroom with Sarah Le and Alanna King).
    I too believe that “the idea of co-learning with students (not colleagues) is a topic that I think gets lip-service but isn’t practiced in many classrooms.” I think as teachers this is a scary concept. In a subject i am familiar with, I don’t have a problem saying “I don’t know the answer to that. Why don’t you find out and let us all know tomorrow.” Partly because I am confident that if I don’t know, it won’t likely be a part of the assessment. But I do want to learn new things, and I don’t want to shut down a student’s curiosity so I encourage students to find out and report back. (this sounds very much like a ‘pat on the head’ now that I’ve written it – yikes)
    I am teaching gr9 applied geography for the first time (15 years of teaching history), and have very little background knowledge (especially in physical geography. I am struggling with learning enough to get by in each 75 minute class. I find my default is to learn what I can about a given topic, summarize it and deliver it to the class the next day. This week I started questioning why I was doing all the “work” of learning this, and they were passively receiving my work. I wouldn’t teach a course i was familiar with this way (at least not as consistently).
    In theory, my colleagues teaching grade 9 geography support the idea of getting students to ask questions about a topic, then go out and do the research and we all try to do that a fair bit. But the information their classes come up with after a period of looking into greenhouse gases looks different than my class’ because they can, and do, lead their classes along a specific, more efficient path.

    I look forward to following the tweets from your session and hope to see some reflection about it afterwards! Have a great discussion!

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