This year I stopped being a teacher and instead became a co-learner with my students.

This year I stopped making my students jump through the hoops of content consumption, rote learning, and memorization of facts and instead began constructing learning environments that are conducive to fostering the development of skills my students will use as life long learners.

This year, the walls of my classroom became thin and we connected with others around the world.

This year, in our classroom, school became real-life.

This year my classroom ceased being a classroom and instead became a workshop of thinking, reading and writing.

This year, I let go of the reins, and placed my students education and learning squarely where it belongs: in their own hands.

This year I created my own personal learning environment, and began teaching my students how to do the same.

This year we changed the world — at least a little bit.

 

School in or school out, the learning goes on

And while school is almost over, my learning is not – because I’m connected. This summer, for vacation, I don’t plan to vacate or take a course that in the end would probably leave me tired and weary.  Instead, I plan to spend the summer in artful restoration, through passionate, fun, deep learning. I won’t be listening to someone tell me how to be a better teacher. Those days are over. In reality, that’s not what my students need. And I don’t plan on pursuing my learning through any formal structure.

I used to think: “Give me a book and I can learn anything.” However, I don’t quite believe that anymore.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love books, and I have a number of them on my ”to read” list this summer.  But I plan to pursue learning through the connectivity of the internet.

I’m going to spend part of my summer teaching myself how to refinish furniture. I have a chair I want to reupholster. It’s been sitting quietly for 3 years. I even have a how-to book, but  I still haven’t started.  Why?  It’s hard for me to understand how to reupholster using a book.

During a discussion I had with Dean Shareski, he told me about a person who learned to build cabinets from sources on the internet. Some of the sources he encountered weren’t that helpful, but a lot of the information was of superior value – so much so that he was able to build beautiful cabinets.

This summer I plan to put this to the test. I’m hoping by the end of the summer I’ll have a reupholstered chair.  If not, I’ll likely have discovered 50 ways not to reupholster a chair.  And when it comes to learning, that can be valuable too.

For me, it’s not about school being in or out. It’s about learning. And if you’re connected, you can learn anytime, about anything.

About the author
Shelley Wright is a teacher and education blogger living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in Canada. She teaches high school English, science and technology and works with other teachers interested in connected, inquiry-driven learning. Her passion is social justice and helping her students make the world a better place. She blogs at Wright’s Room. Follow her on Twitter at @wrightsroom.