Reflection, Teaching

Nothing Like a Little Anarchy

 

 

What is the purpose of what we have learned today?  This is a question I have been asked by my students and a question I often ask myself when thinking about the types of things I am going to ask my students to do.  What I notice a lot of the time is that by fifth grade, many kids have figured out that there is a ‘right answer’ and that if they are not 100% sure what that answer is, they are not going to say anything.  In my book, Imagine A School, I imagine the following:

 

Imagine A School

 

 

Often I wonder if I am providing this for my kids or channeling them all down a one way street to sixth grade.  I want to be the kind of teacher that hands out the following oath and dares my kids to sign it like they mean it – and then teaches them like I mean it.

 

 

 

I just finished reading Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks.  The book is told by 8 year old Max’s 6 year old imaginary friend, Budo.  Even imaginary kids can tell the difference between those teachers who “play school and those who teach school”:

“It’s strange how teachers can go off to college for all those years to learn to become teachers, but some of them never learn the easy stuff. Like making kids laugh. And making sure they know that you love them.”
― Matthew DicksMemoirs of an Imaginary Friend

 

What is most important to you as a teacher?

Reflection, Teaching

N is for “No”

N is for No

 

 

“No feels safe, while yes is dangerous indeed.  Yes to possibility and yes to risk and yes to looking someone in the eye and telling her the truth. “

-Seth Godin “V is for Vulnerable”

I recently supported a Kickstarter project by Seth Godin.  As part of my reward for backing his initiative, I got a couple of copies of his collaborative project with Hugh MacLeod, “V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone – An ABC for Grown-ups”.  As I was re-reading it again today, I stopped when I got to the letter N.  N is for No.  This made me think of my kids and the project they have proposed as part of our How We Express Ourselves unit on persuasion.  It started with this, and then this and ultimately ended with this.  A no.

So, what do we do with the “No”. This has been something I have been thinking about since the last day of school before the break.  On one hand, I think the no is valuable. I think it is good for my kids to learn that just because they are adorable and have a fun idea, people are not automatically going to jump on board and give their blessing.  On the other hand, I still find the no valuable – but for a different reason.  For the reason that a ‘no’ doesn’t have to mean the end.  Just because someone says no, doesn’t mean you have to stop and give up.  The whole point of the unit is to develop our powers of persuasion. How are we doing this if after our first no to our first proposal, we roll over and say “OK”?

What do we do with the no? 

This will be the question that awaits my kids when they come back from our break in January.  I will be guided by them as to how they wish to proceed – that is, after all, what an inquiry based classroom looks like.  I will be looking to them to guide me as we try and figure out where too from here. As I continued to flip through the book, I was inspired again by “Y”.  Y is for Youth.

Y is for Youth

“Youth isn’t a number, it’s an attitude. So many disruptive artists have been youngsters, even the old ones.  Art isn’t a genetic or chronological destiny, it’s a choice, open to anyone willing to trade pain in exchange for magic. “

-Seth Godin “V is for Vulnerable”

I think my kids have attitude and I think they are capable of magic.  I can’t wait to see what they do with the no.

To learn more about Seth Godin’s Kickstarter project, go here.

To learn more about Hugh MacLeod, go here.

Inspiration, PYP, Reflection

Be The Change-Maker

I was continuing to reflect on the learning that occurred yesterday and in doing so, I had my kids line up in a human continuum.  I know these are used for lots of things but I wanted to use them as a reflective tool and a tool for self-regulated action.  Once the kids were lined up on the continuum from “I must have the manuals for the lego kits and a friend to do it with and I am still freaking out somewhat” to “Just throw the manuals out and unleash the kit on me – I want to create!” I had them take a good look around the room.  I then asked them to consider the following questions:

  • How could you help someone else?
  • Where do you plan on being on this continuum in two weeks time?
  • What will you do when you need help?
  • How will you move forward from where you are at?

My purpose in doing this?  To empower the kids in the class to choose to act.  Making explicit the notion of action is one of the five essential elements of the PYP.

Stated quite simply, the action cycle asks students to reflect, choose and act. As they stood and looked around the room, my aim was:

  • To help them see that there are options within our room to offer help and to be helped and to seek help.
  • To provide them with like-minded colleagues to work with and also give them the opportunity to see who was out there that they could improve their understanding by working with.
  • To provide an opportunity for those with greater experience to be gracious in the sharing of that knowledge in order to move the whole group forward.
  • To remind them that choosing NOT to act was also taking action – the ball is in their court.

Now, I do know that these sound like lofty goals.  BUT….there are times when it is good to be reminded that to experience change, you can wait for circumstances to be different, the season to turn, or the wind to blow, OR you can be a change maker in yourself. Will it work? Will I see an immediate, overnight transformation of 10 and 11 year olds choosing to “Be the Change”? Maybe not.  Doesn’t stop me hammering that option home every chance I can get though!