What is your position in your classroom? Are you the transmitter of knowledge? Are you a facilitator of learning? Are you a designer of experiences? Chances are that you are more the latters than the former if you’re here and reading this. But how much control do you need to have? How tightly are you gripping those reins?
Transmitter of knowledge? Facilitator of learning? Designer of experiences?
I’ve written previously about the shift in mindset for teachers when they need to follow their students, to let them take the lead. Now this doesn’t mean that you give up all control. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t ensuring curriculum connections are met. I mean that you don’t need to be the center of all happenings in your class. I mean that we can uncover something great in our students when we empower them to be the teachers, to be sharers with their peers, to find their islands of excellence and utilize them to their fullest.
On a recent visit to Sir William Stephenson PS, teachers wanted multiple classes to work on some new skills with modifying and editing images. Inspired by the much-discussed Nike ad campaign featuring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, students were using imagery to convey a social justice message. With 25 students, a whole-class lesson doesn’t always go well; with 75 it almost never does. So, we decided to let the students lead. This being a new skill, we needed to help them get started. Working for a short period with one class, we built some basic skills. After this we gathered the whole group in the Library to share what they’ve learned. In small groups of students mixed between classes, students took the lead sharing what they had just learned. Were they total experts? No! But they were willing to let go of that need to know everything and offer what they did know. When they got stuck, they worked together or got some help.
We didn’t panic, we problem-solved
These skills were new for teachers as well. They didn’t feel the need to master them before working on this with their students, they were working through the new ideas with them, figuring it out as we went along. The great thing was, as we went, we discovered new things. Students had creative ideas we hadn’t thought of. We didn’t panic, we problem-solved with them. We thought of ways to take a simple tool like Google Drawings and create complex pieces of media.
So let go of control a little. See where it takes you.