It’s been said over and over again that today’s economy does not need the factory model education system. We know that we are so far past that. So why do we still beat this drum? Haven’t we changed?
The argument is for cross-curricular and inter-disciplinary projects for students. With such easy access to information, there are so many opportunities for the integration of content and skills from multiple disciplines into every class. The assessment of skills can be infused into challenging scenarios that connect to life and events outside of the classroom walls. The scenarios can be tough to create, but teachers tend to be creative, engaging storytellers. Better yet, use an actual real-world problem. Even better, have students FIND the problem that they want to solve! You may argue, “But there are basics to learn.” Well, there’s small group instruction and digital tools that help facilitate practice and assess the basics, while the rest of the class can be for collaboration and problem-solving. The problems and projects are how we really engage our students, helping them discover interests. We live and work in a project-based and problem-based world and economy, so why not engage our students in that type of work?
It’s NOT the teachers, the principals, administration, or really anyone on the “front lines” that are actively promoting a factory model of teaching. I’m very lucky. I rarely see kids in rows being talked at for an hour. My assertion is that we need more real-world, problem- and project-based activities in the classroom.
The concept of “How” do I …?” is often a discussion for educators and students. “How do I … ?” fill in the blank … “solve this word problem,” “write this conclusion,” or the thousands of examples in which teachers explain, model, and demonstrate for students how to do something. As we close the school year, perhaps we show students how to “reflect on the year.” I would agree that the “How?” of learning is possibly one of the most important skills. Students need to learn how to learn and develop metacognition. With our help, they can develop perseverance, develop grit, and work through the struggles and failures of learning. However, I believe we must start with “Why?” and finish with reflections about their “Why?” This is probably the most important aspect to model and discuss with students. This year, we were proud to see our students in all of our schools set and work towards personal goals. The teachers and students are certainly reflecting on those goals as we approach the end of our school year (and some are possibly setting new ones for the summer and for next school year).
Here are some ideas to finish the year strong:
- Lead reflective discussions (perhaps use Pear Deck since teachers control whether responses are displayed for the class, plus they’re displayed anonymously)
- Share your own personal life lessons on setting, achieving and/or not reaching goals
- Discuss favorite or memorable lessons and ask students to explain why they were so memorable (this will help show that you are reflecting as a teacher on how you can make lessons better for students)
- Have students create bulletin board or whiteboard wall art that explains, “Tips for “incoming” students.”
- Consider tracking goals using Sheets and Docs – perhaps students can track some type of personal progress over the summer
- Watch and discuss Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk – “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance”
- Have individual student-led conferences to help students finish strong
- Create a “Pride Wall” for goal achievements where students can share their accomplishments
In the end, start with “Why,” and continue to come back to that throughout the year.
Plan – Do – Check – Act – it’s all a process, especially for learning.