When you read the rest of today’s blog I want you to know it spoke volumes to me about the transformation we are going through with our teaching and our classrooms, and the good work that we are doing in this district with regard to 21st Century Skills. A colleague I follow on Twitter, Shelly S. Terrell, wrote an article about Transforming your teaching this school year, and I feel it bears repeating.
” I want to give you permission. I want to tell you that yes, you have the freedom and power to inspire incredible learning this year. You are the instrument in your classroom that determines whether your students will love learning or hate learning. So how do you begin to implement that power and ensure your students learn effectively? Try a few of these ideas in your class this year. They are meant to be accomplished in only one class period in one semester. This way you can take baby steps and reflect on the outcomes in the coming months. If these ideas don’t work, you can always go back to your regular way of teaching.”
Several tips to encourage transformation in your classroom and with students: (more tips can be found in the link I’ve included on my blog)
- Ask a question that has many answers or no answer at all.
- Give your students the reins for one class period. Give them the topic or learning objective, then ask how they would like to learn about that topic. They might suggest a game, project or exploration with technology.
- Allow your students to choose how they will be assessed for one topic. They might suggest a project, game or another method.
- Ask your students what they really are interested in learning and for the day, allow them to interview an expert in that field online. Your students can search for the e-mail address, blog address, Facebook account or Twitter handle of that person. For example, a student might be interested in skateboarding. Have that student connect with Tony Hawk on Twitter or another famous skateboarder.
- Tell your students everyday for a week that you are glad to be their teacher. Do this by greeting them at the door with a smile, handshake or high five.
- Conduct a class in a different environment, such as outdoors or in another part of the building.
In my daily visits and walkthroughs to campuses I continue to see student-centered classrooms filled with creativity, spontaneous conversations about the learning, and the encouragement and confidence from students who understand the concepts they are learning about. Reach deep within you to continue the transformation that includes authentic learning, sound instructional pedagogy, and the evidence of learning you see as a result. You will be amazed.