Jul 5, 2011
Comments Off on Learning Happened. (A few lists…)

Learning Happened. (A few lists…)

A few lists connected to the school year that passed.

Things to Do Again:

  • Invite the outside world into my classroom. Throw open the doors.
  • Be constantly striving for more authentic audience, task, learning.
  • Invite scrutiny.
  • Build rich connections with colleagues and look for opportunities to engage in good, though possibly uncomfortable, professional dialogue.
  • Shift away from the centre. Don’t think top-down is teacher-student. Instead, think there is no top, “We are all in this together.”
  • One rule: “Be Great”
  • Have rich, meaningful, honest conversations with each student about their progress. These conversations were much more nuanced and useful then any mark or report card comment. They take time, but they are worth it.

Things I Didn’t Get Quite Right:

  • Parents: I had no complaints from parents, well, none that I have any knowledge.  I had some real great feedback from parents, though. But I didn’t quite get it right. Even after last semester’s reflection on the role of parents, I didn’t do a good enough job keeping/getting them connected to their child’s learning. I need to take more time to get them connected, get them involved. Especially as I use more and more social media, authentic audience, etc. It blends so easily. I want students, regardless of grade, to be talking to their parents about what they learned in class today. This breeds a greater importance on learning, less on the final numerical result of the learning.
  • Flexibility: Some of the feedback I got from students was that I provided them, at times, too much freedom and flexibility. They felt that they hung themselves with it. Now each student recognized that they need to own the responsibility, however, they’ve never been taught how, so it is unfair for me to expect them to handle it.  I had many of my students comment that their ability to “be in a regular classroom” was compromised because of the flexibility they had in my class. I look at that as something that I didn’t get quite right and I’m going to need to work to find a better balance.
  • Sharing: It is one of those lessons you learn early, and it turns out often, about taking (or even better making) opportunities to share the things you are doing.  I wrote a blog post entitled “If I Don’t Share, Is It Because I Don’t Own It?” that begins to reflect on the nature of sharing in this profession.  I used the excuse that “I didn’t own the class” when I first talked about sharing, but now, with more afterthought and more reflection on all the things I did in class, I recognize that I’ve got to share more.  I believe there are things every class should be doing, those things that worked and are easy, but if I don’t share them with the people in my building they are dead already.  I don’t know what this will look like, but it needs to be done.
  • Feedback: I’m still not there. I’ve written about the feedback loop that I’m trying to create but it is not complete. It needs more tweaking. How do I provide rich, constructive, learning feedback, while making it manageable? How do I provide that as instantly as possible while teaching upwards of 90 students a day? How do I more concretely connect the required number (grade on the report card) with the intangible (observations)?
  • The Game: I’m not one to mind my ‘p’s’ and ‘q’s’. I say what’s on my mind and often live with the consequences. Professionally speaking, I’m not one to play the game.  I just run at my own speed. This tactic (though it really is the lack of tactics) has left me isolated at times. On its own, I’m not too worried. However, if my actions are going to work against a student’s needs in the future (with a colleague, parent or administrator), then I haven’t served them. The game is not for me, it is to serve my students in the best way. I need to find a middle ground, maybe?


Things I Learned About Learning:

  • I love to learn. Adding the Twittersphere to my daily professional development was wonderful.
  • Learning happens with community. The idea that learning can happen on your own is baloney. You need other people. We need to constantly be honing our ability to create community in our classrooms. But not just any community, learning community. There is a difference, a big one.
  • Learning is a dog fight. Grip it and rip it. Learning is not for the faint of heart. It is tough and messy and rarely pretty. Recognizing this made me much more willing to take risks and not shy away when the going got tough, which it does inevitably, every time.
  • It can’t happen in a bubble. Allow for distractions. Maintaining direct focus is unsustainable for most learners. Most of us need time and space to breathe.
  • I’m not the best learner in the room. I’m really only good at learning for me. Let people/students learn with whatever methods work for them.
  • Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up. I like to jump in with testing the water. I do this with learning new things too. I learned that for some things, that isn’t the best strategy. Now, this isn’t to say i’m not going to be jumping in, but maybe, just maybe, I won’t be doing a cannonball.

Things I Need To Learn More About:

  • Google Apps
  • Integrating autonomy more effectively into every class. FedEx Days? What would they look like?
  • Building more authentic, project-based learning opportunities.
  • Establishing richer community with people on Twitter. I’m not using this tool to its full potential.
  • How to be a better collaborator.
  • Access to funding opportunities to enrich the learning in the room.

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