The Hardest Pill to Swallow

Tonight I read a post by Taryn BondClegg about trusting her students. It is worth the read and I will imagine many (most?) of us will recognize elements of ourselves in her writing.

I posted an almost knee-jerk reaction to her post in the form of this comment:

I worry/am concerned by this issue and how it pertains to grit/persistence/stick-ability. So many ideas end up in the “too hard” basket when teachers step back and trust the students. I wonder: were they interested to begin with? what DO they stick with (i.e. have they a record of being able to stick with something?) what constraints/parameters/scaffolds have been present in their past that have not added to their ability to “do for themselves”? how might we create opportunities prior to Exhibition for this kind of agentic learning? And then 1000 x over: What am I doing wrong?! The tension keeps me motivated and at the same time, when I see children afforded SO much in terms of the education/schooling they are getting and the levels of apathy (despite/because of?) our intentions, I do become frustrated. Learner agency rejected has to be one of the hardest pills for me to swallow.

Sonya terBorg

The hardest pill to swallow.

Learner Agency rejected.

 

Despite my visceral ‘ramblings’ I do think there are some points worth fleshing out although to what end, I am not sure (yet!). They are questions I grapple with and, to be clear, they may differ from the questions that led Taryn to her original post.

How might we create opportunities for agentic learning throughout the PYP?

Are we starting with the learner in mind? 

What are we doing for kids that they can do for themselves? 

And more recently, I am wondering about the source of the apparent apathy when learning constraints are lifted and learners are part of the decision making process.

Next year, I am shifting focus from PYP to MYP. At my school, that means working with students during X Block. After an initial planning meeting with a focus on next year, we agreed upon this cycle by Kath Murdoch (with a couple of tweaks) from her book “The Power of Inquiry”. When posting earlier on Twitter about types of inquiry cycles, Jane Ross, an educator-extraordinaire whom I admire greatly for her work in STEM, STEAM, iTime, and developing a Maker Mindset, reminded me that “the cycle itself isn’t as important as a really great question.”

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Which has made me think about how important that initial “focus” portion of the inquiry is and the role we have in helping kids develop their questions that will lead to really deep and motivated inquiries. Cue Twitter (again) and a tweet by AJ Juliani: Crafting Your Own KADQ – a blog post by @GingerLewman on writing a kick-ass driving question.

There are no words to express how great this post is and I really hope it helps (as I re-read it multiple time) clarify the type of support and scaffolding I can work with kids on to help ensure that they are starting their inquiry at a point of entry that is motivating to them.

So, my initial wonderings and knee-jerk reaction to Taryn’s post, led me to reflect on what I am doing and hopefully, how I can do it better, thanks to the input of the Twitterverse. For anyone that doubts the power of the PLN…..that is yet another pill I will not swallow.