But why would you?
I watched a clip a couple of years ago, What if kids designed their own school? and was so excited as it made clear the concept of student led learning. I had been trying to build this into my classroom programmes as much as I knew how to and as diversely as I could, this clip took it deeper in my thinking. But not only that, it included so much of what was percolating around future focused education and the principles involved, community engagement, and the kids looked like they really enjoyed it. So I remember asking my principal, Denise Sainsbury, "what would this look like in a primary school classroom?" And it took a couple of years and a few iterations, but it looks sort of like what we are trying to do with AoN. Two years on, much of it seems more 'normal' but it was a great place to springboard some thinking. A visit to Stonefields School in Auckland last year reinforced that it can happen successfully in a primary classroom for more than an hour a week. So for the kids, loving school (even more) and having a focused boost on developing the traits of an active learning whilst learning about what you love is why you would do it. But what's in it for the teachers?
The talk of 'teaching is isolating' etc is not new. On the whole, we all know you're in your class sometimes as the only adult (which has been good at times- like having my headset on and singing and dancing tunes from 'The Electric Company' to assist spelling). But one of the things I am excited about is working with other excellent teachers and growing my ways of doing things, getting even more feedback on my practice, and exploring the roles that we all play as we team teach. At Ulearn14, I heard the phrase 'co-teaching continuum' and since have been doing a bit of reading around the potential of having more than one teacher in a room. I could never get a programme going that had students opting into masterclasses as they identified their learning needs and I look forward to exploring how this may work in a co-teaching environment.
After reading Fullan's A Rich Seam, I was thinking about his comments around how there are less assessment tools to 'measure' deep learning. Developing some tools around capturing growth as an active learner is exciting, challenging and essential as we have to ascertain whether what we are doing is having any impact on our learners, and what that impact is. We are involved in a Student Mapping Project which does this which will certainly help our thinking and practices in this area.
And as a teacher, I am excited about trying to practice more of the principles of Future Focused Education without thinking about bells, eating times, curriculum coverage, literacy 'blocks' and all the other things we do to help make the most of our time with our students' day to day learning.
So as the first round is about to begin, these are some wonderings. I look forward to revisiting them as time goes on to see if I can answer any of them!
? Is 14 weeks enough time, one day per week, to build on/extend capability in learners to use their active learning skills more independently?
? Will learners and home teachers be able to identify any impact focused thinking about being an active learner has on reading, writing, and maths data?
? Will there be any alternative venues (if we choose to change venues) in Lower Hutt that have broadband capability for 60 people that isn't a school and available for a term and a half lease? This has been a major hurdle.
? What does curriculum coverage look like in a future focused setting? Is there any 'must have' knowledge? Does any school have a curriculum and planning that doesn't include any AOs but only values/KCs? Were the learners disadvantaged?
It's exciting and frightening. And completely exciting! And there is a lot less sleep in the middle of the night. Thank goodness we are a team! And thanks to Natasha, have laughing yoga as a stress release!