Saturday, July 16, 2016

Where Do I Fit in a Student Centered Classroom?

This summer has been filled with learning. I have been to great conferences, reading two wonderful books, reading blogs, taking a college course and participating in summer Twitter chats. One thing that is common is the idea of a student centered classroom. So, while we empower students, allow them to explore their passions and make choices ...where do we the teachers fit in?


Don't we need to be the ones who provide new experiences? If they make all the decisions and choices aren't they  limited to what they know? As the guides we need to walk them through new ideas, new places, and new experiences. We build their schema and introduce them to things they may never have known. We need to carefully select and and be careful in how much we give. We need to allow their curiosity and inquiry motivate and engage them in these situations. We need to pay attention to the questions they ask and allow those to guide our further discussions and my instruction. 


I am in agreement we should allow our students to make choices on the tools they use to share their thinking and learning process. However, I as a teacher discover new tools they can use on a daily basis. How can they decide with their limited knowledge of the tools they can use? In fact, I expect we can learn from one another. I can not make a decision if I will want to use that tool until I become comfortable with it. So, as educators, do we make it a point that they will use a tool multiple times before choice is given? Should we at times tell them what they must use, or should choice always be there?


I am loving learning more about ideas such as Project Based Learning, Genius Hour, and having a class of Innovators. Allowing students to explore, inquire and dig deeper into their passions is a high priority. I think back over my own education and the things I was "taught". So many of my passions come from those teachings. So, where is the balance? Where do I allow students to explore and be involved in inquiry, and when do I explicitly teach? Does this depend on the age of our students? How will my students know if we should get involved in a global project if they do not know about the people in that culture or the struggles they have? How can they imagine the struggles in history if I don't teach them? How can they become passionate about the Olympics and Presidential elections if I don't spend time educating them? How do I then turn it around and make it theirs? How do I get them actively involved and motivated? How do I grow those passions?

Where do we fit in?

As educators, where do we fit in? On the scale, is one side more weighted than the other? As I look to the year ahead I see a change for me. I want my students to make more decisions, make it more their classroom and make them the "agents". Yet, I see I am needed. I am responsible for helping them discover new learning, enrich their lives and find their passion, fill their tool boxes with strategies and a mindset, prepare them for their future. I am seeking that balance and trying to envision what our student centered classroom will look like and feel like. How will I plan for instruction? How will they work and what choices will they have? Where do you see yourself in this equation? 

"Take every opportunity you can to have students see themselves as agents of their own learning."
A Mindset for Learning by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz