Students will love the idea of being in charge of their learning for the most part, but they may not be ready to do it on their own. So you will need to scaffold the experience until they can do it successfully by themselves. Be aware that you may encounter students who aren't interested in these kinds of freedoms. Often times, honor students want to be told what to do so they know how to get the grade they want. If time is spent de-emphasizing the importance of grades, this can start to shift as well.
If you're like me, there's always something to do and never enough time to get it all done. So the idea of taking a break is almost foreign. Being both a parent and an educator fills my life with an abundance of important tasks and learning that certainly keep me busy and that doesn't include my professional life outside of the classroom. Recently I've noticed that I have to give myself permission to let things sit. Reminding myself that the world won't end if an email doesn't get answered immediately or a blog post doesn't get written. Taking care of ...
Although it may seem hard to let go of old lesson plan books or materials, in order to keep ourselves fresh, no matter how many years we have been teaching a subject, we should always take the time to rethink the way we teach for this year's students. As we improve our practice, so too should our ideas for classroom learning grow and our plans should be updated accordingly.
Try to imagine the following student: He or she is extremely bright but doesn't necessarily represent well on paper because his/her level of commitment doesn't read in the test scores or transcript. You've taught this student once, maybe more and have developed a rapport with him/her. You know he/she will be successful in college, especially if it's a school of his/her choosing. But acceptance letters have been sent and you notice that that student is not looking as excited as the rest of his/her peers. "What's the matter?" you ask. "I've been wait-listed," he/she ...
Effective communication with students who need to hear the most, must happen one to one. Take the time to make sure students are getting what they need and keep students from slipping through the cracks, particularly as Spring fever sets in.
Drawing is another way for students to creatively show what they know. We can incorporate more design in what is going on in class so students can demonstrate understanding visually rather than just in words.
Although testing can be an annoyance to all involved, they are an unfortunate reality in today's educational climate. The best we can do is make the most of the time we have with kids and remind them that it's temporary.
Students are capable of really deep thinking when we allow them an appropriate amount of time to gather thoughts and consider the diverse views of their classmates. If we want students to be critical thinkers, we must give them opportunities to follow their own inquiry and dive deeper into their learning.
Guest post: Laura Gibbs joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma in 1999, and she has been teaching fully online courses since 2002. You can find out more at her website: MythFolklore.net, which is also home to the "Growth Mindset Cats" -- Cats.MythFolklore.net.
Students who are about to go into the world, out of our watchful environment need opportunities to practice first. Let's give them that and trust that they will take advantage of the chances we provide. Just because there will be a few kids who take advantage in a negative way doesn't mean we should punish the whole group.