I am in a bad spot. I have come to a cross roads in my thinking of how my class should be run. It is not a safe place. I don’t mean my class, I mean my thinking…what is going on in my head. I feel uncomfortable and uncertain, and I do not like that feeling. I like to know exactly how my day is going to go – pencils sharpened, ipods charged, computers ready, students walking quietly in a row, instructions given and activities completed in the same way at the same time. I am a rule follower who is comfortable with consistency and predictability. I also do my fair share of reading, and it has challenged my understanding of what school should be, so I have decided to let go and give my classroom back to the students. Before I elaborate on where I am going, I need to explain more fully what caused the change in direction.
I happen to teach at an exceptional small public school where the administration has been pushing us to think differently for several years. They are creating a vision where the learning is student directed. I also follow the writings of Terri Eichholtz at Engage Their Minds and John Spencer at Education Rethink. It seems the educationsphere is full of the call to change the education paradigm. This post from my district’s Instructional Technology Specialist is just one example. I just returned from an incredible week of sharing at TCEA‘s Annual Convention in Austin, Texas. It was during Kyle Pace‘s keynote presentation at the Tec-SIG luncheon that I became thoroughly convinced I am missing the mark when it comes to doing what is best for my students. I left with my stomach in knots – not due to the food that was served (it was excellent), but due to the conviction I felt over a video and a statement. Kyle showed the video embedded below:
Then he used this word
The video was not new to me…I had run across it a few years ago while researching Rube Goldberg machines for my G/T students preparing for a Innovation Convention. What surprised me was my reaction to his call to EXPOSE. It hit me that all students have the capability to be incredibly gifted students like Audri, but they are not given the opportunity to be exposed in my classes right now. From everything I have read and seen about Genius Hour, 20% Time, Passion Project, or whatever you may call it, this seems to be a great avenue for that kind of exposure. I realize I am also in a unique position to try a new focus in that in that I am not a traditional classroom teacher. My content area is not subject to a high stakes tests. So begins my journey. Next week my students will be introduced to Wonder Weeks. Stayed tuned for future posts.