Walking the talk

Please walk on the grass ...I have just completed week 2 of The Mind Lab experience and I have a number of ideas I have to reflect on. The readings I had to do this week also took me down some rabbit trails. So now I have more than enough to write about and too little time … the lament of many a teacher blogger. Is this what my students feel like? 🙂 So let’s get to the first reflection.

How is your understanding of the purpose of education visible in your classroom?

Before you jump into my ramblings try answering that question for your classroom. Do it …

Perhaps you will start, like me, with what your understanding of the purpose of education is. I briefly reflected on the purpose of education in “Room for improvement“:

In my opinion, the purpose of education is to equip my students with robust critical thinking skills that will enable them to come up with creative, collaborative solutions to the challenges they will face in life. This also implies teaching them the communication skills they will need both to collaborate and to explain their creative solutions to others.

Please read that statement in the broadest possible sense. It goes far beyond employment since there is far more to life than just a job …

Now for the tough part: will this purpose be evident when you attend one of my classes?

  1. Is there a positive classroom atmosphere that facilitates authentic collaboration?
  2. Do my students regularly work on learning activities in my class that are challenging enough that they cannot find ‘the answer’ in Google?
  3. Do my students see failure as a learning opportunity?
  4. Do I actively promote the value of thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication?
  5. Do I actively teach the skills related to thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication?

My responses to these questions are (in order):

  1. Yes, most of the time. Teaching and learning don’t really work without it …
  2. Not as much as I know they have to. However the learning areas I am teaching in, technology and the social sciences, lend themselves to more open-ended assignments.
  3. Unfortunately my students struggle with this one and it gets worse the older they get. Without getting too political, standardised testing encourages a focus on an excellent end-product instead of the process to get there. One could argue that if students understood what an excellent ‘process’ looked like, the end-product would be excellent too …
  4. I am more successful in promoting this when I teach in our school’s modern learning spaces than when I am teaching in a single cell classroom. There is something energising about a team-teaching approach in a modern learning space …
  5. I think I have grown a little slack in this area … although I try to choose assignments that indirectly ‘force’ students to develop these skills, I believe being more intentional about teaching these skills and then letting my students practice it as the year goes on may be more effective.

I want to encourage you to come visit my classroom and let me know whether I have been honest with myself … I can see all sorts of inquiry goals come from this reflection … 🙂

To walking the talk … and lifelong learning!

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