I recently blogged about the importance of cultivating a culture where our students are expected to fail sometimes — it’s part of taking risks. We need to do this as teachers too. The first step, of course, is to create a culture of trust and support among teachers, and that’s hard in the midst of high-stakes testing and the publishing of teacher and school rankings. The only way this will happen is if we’re honest.
I’ll go first.
Teachers who are interested in shifting their classrooms often donâ€™t know where to start. It can be overwhelming, frightening, and even discouraging, especially when no one else around you seems to think the system is broken. The question Iâ€™ve been asked often throughout the past year is “Where should a teacher begin?” Iâ€™ve reflected on this a fair amount, and I think small strategic steps are the key.
One of the most important things we can do is teach our students how to use social media wisely, and how social media can be used for social good. In grade 11 English this semester, we’ve chosen to create a social media campaign to raise awareness around modern slavery. It’s not enough for my students to learn about slavery, they need to do something with it, specifically “real world” projects that matter.
I teach in an inquiry, project-based, technology embedded classroom. What does that mean? I lecture less, and my students explore more. I create a classroom where students encounter concepts, via labs and other methods, before they necessarily understand all the specifics of what is happening. It’s a place where my students spend time piecing together what they have learned, critically evaluating its larger purpose, and reflecting on their own learning. Technology is embedded into the structure of all we do. It’s part of how we research, how we capture information, and how we display our learning. It’s never an accessory tacked on at the end.
My English class is currently in the midst of learning about modern-day slavery. This past week I learned how crucial the role of the teacher is in the inquiry classroom. In fact, during the course of the week, I came to see that an inquiry teacher has at least five roles to play in this exciting, sometimes frustrating, and always unpredictable process.