On this particular visit I was reunited with old friends Josh Nichols and Steve Trosin. As I toured the elementary and talked with students I was blown away. Teachers had taken a step back, the voices in the room were student voices. Students were asking questions and investigating for answers. Mr. Nichols and Mr. Trosin were facilitating and observing, not dominating the learning. This created personal reflection...I thought back to my years in the classroom. I remember walking into the teachers lounge after school and seeing exhausted teachers...I thought, this is wrong, why are the teachers exhausted...shouldn't the students be more tired than the adults? Who's doing all the work?
As I refocused on what I was watching, I saw underwater robots, reassembling of musical instruments and the growing of plants in various conditions. Most of what I saw was not brain surgery; these were hands-on activities that created thought, discussion and student engagement. Here is a clip that Brad Wilson - @dreambition created:
Over the last several weeks I have had face to face conversations and online conversations that have a united message. The message I keep hearing is that educators are feeling burned out. I've heard it from colleagues, friends, acquaintances and even strangers. At first I believed a positive attitude could fix it. But the more I listened and the more I attempted to fix, the more I realized this isn't going away. So I ask the question, is it time to reinvent classroom learning? At the end of the day who is working hardest, the students or the teacher?
Just this week I watched this classroom video, and it inspired this post...check it out:
As a teacher I was fortunate to have the ability to create and try new things. Two lessons still vividly stand out for me: The first was an activity on Speed & Velocity. I had brainstormed the idea to order Lego tubs from our local ISD. They supplied me with the Lego boxes and I then went to work creating a rubric. Students were then put in groups of two or three. They needed to build a vehicle that would go down a ramp and along a designated grid. Students then asked a variety of questions that reaffirmed I was doing a pretty decent job of teaching. Students asked about surface, friction, weight, mass, obstacles and other variables. One student brought up Newton's Laws of Motion. I simply stepped back and turned them loose. Students used learned knowledge to design and create their vehicles. The final projects were really cool. It went so well that the next year I did something very similar with one big wrinkle...I wrote a grant for solar powered vehicles. Students painted and designed their vehicles, and now they were also learning about solar power. These projects still stick in my head. Students were fully engaged, I had very few behavioral issues and the learning was constant. I went home each day energized and excited to see where the students would take the learning. As I look back, I wish I had more experiences like this. Project Based Learning has always been around, but we are smarter now. We've learned valuable information on how to enhance the process.
If you are feeling defeated, tired, burned out or simply exhausted I encourage you to think about reinventing the learning in your classroom. Here are a few simple steps -
1) Start Small: Brainstorm a project or read a bit about Genius Hour
2) Create some guidelines and expectations
3) Be willing to let go of complete control
4) Take pictures, praise the engaged learning!
5) Don't Fear Failure: Try not to fear messy or boisterous noise
This Week's Big Question(s): How are you feeling as an educator? Is it time to re-energize yourself? Is it time to re-invent the learning in your classroom?
NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:
Monday, November 25th: LifeTouch will be in the building doing candid shots
Monday, November 25th: Tech Meeting
Tuesday, November 26th: 9am TEAM meeting at Warner
Tuesday, November 26th: After School String Team at SAU
Wednesday, November 27th: Happy Bday Laura Smith
Wednesday, November 27th: No School, Thanksgiving Break
Check out Brad Wilson's @dreambition Thanksgiving Symbaloo
Articles Worth Reading:
Got Forgiveness? @joykelly05
Read and Connect @JennaVDixon @ErinMastin
The Moral Imperative of Assessment @d_mulder
Are You Teaching Kids To Fail Less and Fail Slower? @ideaguy42 (MUST SEE Video in this post!)
Foot In Mouth Disease @ShutUpRun
Videos Worth Watching:
What truly Motivates us? (11 min)
How To: Screen Record Your iPad (3 min) @techsavvyed
Difference Between Dogs and Cats (3 min)
Hilarious Clip! (2 min)