Tuesday, November 17, 2015 was the single most amazing day of my ten year teaching career and not because of anything I did – it was my students who planned, discussed, and worked unbelievably hard in order to facilitate a thought-provoking panel discussion with six phenomenal educators from across Canada.
In considering how I wanted to reflect on this event, I’ve struggled with how I wanted to share my thinking. This is actually the third blog post I’ve started as the other two just didn’t do my students, the panelists, and the event justice, and so I’m going to explain the backstory and then reflect through screenshots of the Twitter conversation. (As well as interviewing the panelists, my students facilitated a thought-provoking Twitter chat.)
In the collaborative and democratic space that is Cloud 428, my students had the opportunity to interview Brenda Sherry, Karen Beutler, Mark Carbone, Donna Fry, Dean Shareski, and Geoff Williams. The students voted on the ideas they wanted to discuss: motivation, grades, and the relevance of school and in self-selected teams, set to work planning the event.
It makes me really sad to hear this sentiment expressed by the students managing our class Twitter account. Unfortunately, we hear this far too often in class. How do we encourage and foster the love of learning in school?
Donna and Brenda really made us think here as not only are they putting the onus on the students to own their learning, but pushing back on the idea that content is the most important aspect of teaching. Truly in an age where we have such access to information, we need to be encouraging critical thinking rather than content.
I love that Dean spoke about the humanness that is learning. He’s absolutely right.
Great questions from Karen. I think these are questions not only for students, but teachers too.
I really appreciate Mark’s questions here as they are on the forefront of my thinking at the moment. Change in the education sphere is very slow and although I can appreciate that change takes time, I often worry that we aren’t making it enough of a priority. We really need to be making school more relevant to our students as we want them to be lifelong learners. If it’s not relevant, we aren’t providing the conditions necessary to create lifelong learners.
Donna nails the issue here. Sinek, Pink, Robinson, and Wagner have all written about how schools are driving innovation and creativity out of our students.
I completely agree with Geoff that we need to sit down and reevaluate our role as schools. He follows it up with suggesting that if we were designing schools now, they would look very different than they do currently and he is absolutely right! I often wonder what schools would look like if we allowed students to engage in the design process.
I again totally agree with Donna. I have really noticed a level of fear that comes with learning at school and it makes me wonder what kind of disservice we are doing to our students by creating an environment that causes such anxiety.
Another major theme that has emerged from the students in my classroom. So many people criticize this generation as lazy or disinterested or selfish when in my experience, those students are the minority. In my ten years of teaching, I would say that students are more interested in the world than I ever was at their age.
I think Mark has identified that major issue facing education today and that as human beings, we have difficulty adapting to change. We are creatures of habit and school is no exception. The problem with this mentality is that we are very quickly if not already, irrelevant for some (or the majority) of students.
I think I have learned far more in the last five years by following my passions than I ever did in a classroom.
I was so humbled that Jackie Gerstein joined the audience. She is truly one of my education heroes.
Donna again makes the case for the creativity and curiosity in the classroom with teachers as guiding and coaching rather than driving the learning.
I love this tweet by Peter Skillen. It captures my philosophy completely.
My students quite enjoyed this comment by Dean.
Especially in skill driven courses such as English!
I really appreciated this thoughtful observation from one of my students about our panelists.
Here’s the proof from others about the awesomeness of my class!