I caught myself again.
The last time was in 2013 and I wrote about it then too.
What did I catch myself doing? Rushing my children… and, by doing so, denying them countless opportunities to learn.
We’ve just moved to Paris. Everything is new. At the moment, the newest things are christmas decorations in the streets and the increasingly intense cold. Every morning, my children just want to look, talk, feel, experience, ponder, notice, appreciate and wonder. But, I have caught myself rushing them. Hurrying them up towards some imaginary or completely unimportant deadline – the need to be early, on time or not late.
It doesn’t really matter if I’m early, on time or not late. My children matter. their experiences of the world matter.
It’s shocking for an educator to do this to his own children. But, we do it to our students every day. We hurry them from lesson to lesson. We dictate their agenda all day. We reduce break times. We don’t give them enough time to eat. We decide if they can go to the toilet or not. We treat “inquiry” as a stand-alone subject that we do in the last period, if they’re lucky. We make their lives busy, indeed we teach the art of “busyness”, as if we don’t trust them to do anything of value if we don’t.
And yet, we all know that the most powerful learning happens when we slow down, when we give them sustained periods of time, when we don’t interrupt and when they’re making choices about why, how and what to learn.
Old habits die hard. How much of modern schooling is still “old habits”?
This is Elmarie’s class blog. She has embedded a Wallwisher page as a way of collecting her students’ thinking. She is asking parents to speak to their children about school and get them to tell them what they enjoyed most about school this week. Then, the parents “post a sticky” on the wall to share what their kids said. How cool is that?
I forgot to do this last year, but usually I ask the parents of my new students each year to write to me. I ask them to tell me all about their child, to tell me who they are as people and as learners and, basically, to tell me anything that might help me to be a better teacher for them.
Parents love this. They love to have the opportunity to express themselves and give their perspectives about their children. They appreciate being able to do this in a positive way, before parent-teacher conferences or even before something goes wrong.
I learn so much from my students parents, things that may have taken me a long time to find out for myself.
I fully recommend giving this a try. Let me know if you do and how it goes.
Image from RowdyKittens on Flickr
When going through Kelli’s photos of her SLCs, I was blown away by the richness of the experiences that were being had by the students and parents of her class. Even though these are “silent” photographs, each picture definitely “tells a thousand words”. The language, both English and mother-tongue, must have been so rich in that room!
One of the main things we can learn from this set of photos is the immeasurable value of taking photos as a way of gathering assessment data. Kelli learned a lot about her students by watching them so closely through the lens of the camera. She knew what she was hoping to see and then captured it visually.
Check out the parents who built a puppet theatre from scratch – priceless!
What were the highlights of your SLCs?
Early Years are just kicking off their Who we are unit of inquiry with an inquiry into language and our sense of identity and belonging. To get the unit going, they are inviting parents and other members of the school community to come in and read stories in their home language to the Early Years students who share the same language.
This is an ongoing initiative so watch this space for more photos, maybe some videos and some comments from Early Years teachers to let us know what effect these sessions have on student learning and inquiries.
I dropped by Year 5 today, starting in Kate’s classroom, and found students reflecting on the presentations they have been doing for their parent audience over the last few days. The Y5 teachers were pretty “pumped up” about it and really wanted to talk about it because they felt it had been an excellent experience, and that the whole process of the unit had really empowered the students to do really effective, informal presentations that demonstrated their conceptual understandings.
The process of the unit looked like this:
- The unit started with rotations in which teachers demonstrated 5 different presentation techniques – both formal and inforaml – and 5 possible areas of inquiry
- The inquiry process helped students develop conceptual understandings, which made them able to focus their presentations instead of just listing random facts
- Research skills were taught in homeroom and in library sessions to enable them to focus on relevant and important information
- Parents were invited in to see presentations and demonstrations. They were ”converted” from passive observers to active participants by being given sample questions to ask the students
- Presentations were filmed in some classes to enable students to watch themselves sharing their work and assessing how they presented themselves.
Watch this space for more information about this!