As it relates to education, what’s the first thing that State officials say about national policymakers? …or the Local ISDs about the State officials? …or the campus about central office administrators? …or the teachers about campus administration? The cyclical nature of this question permeates all levels and highlights one common denominator:
they just don’t get it.
We’ve all utter those words numerous times about those above us or those in power. It should be noted however that this is not some rhetoric or rant about the ‘powers that be’; it’s easy to blame others. Instead, I challenge you to ask yourself the same question I asked myself a week ago: “what am I pretending to miss?”
What’s the first thing my learners would say? ….about my instructional or curriculum choices? or…about my class content? Do they see value and importance in everything that we do? Or do they just absorb the information presented because I am goofy and relational? What would my learners say!?!? My fear of similar responses quickly humbled me to understand that the same cyclical nature of generational differences most likely lurks in my classroom as well.
With the help of our Academy Council, a group of student leaders at my high school, I have immediately started implementing another layer of authentic voice and choice for my learners. My learners have always had the freedom to choose their product and/or creatively demonstrate mastery from a list of learning targets, but they haven’t had a lot of autonomy over the content. However, last week, that changed. Although I am guided by district and campus expectations, I wanted to extend as much content influence as “teacherly” possible to my learners. I posted a rough draft of my next learning experience online and met with interested learners during lunch and/or via Twitter. I asked them to think about the following questions before the meeting:
- Do you see how you can demonstrate your passions through this experience?
- Do you believe this experience will help prepare you for your future?
When the answer was “no”, honest and open discussion with my learners got us to the next step in the development process. The conversations had were mind-blowing. The renewed investment in the learning process was tangible. I am eager to compare their learning outcomes once we finish this learning experience to those previously.
- We need to strategically empower our students, so that it’s less of I and they, and more of we.
- I want other educators to invite students to learning design meetings. We shouldn’t be planning for them, we should be planning with them.
- Students should be professional development partners. They know more about how they learn than we do.
- Learners should feel in control of their learning.