Sunday, March 15, 2015

Students Leading Their Learning

I am going to continue to challenge each of you to rethink your approach to your daily lessons. Why? Because I want our students to be engaged, excited, and motivated to learn. I don't want our students learning "because they have to" I want our students learning because THEY WANT TO.

We have all heard the saying, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime." We can apply this seamlessly to the classroom. Give a student a task and he will complete the task. Teach a student to problem solve and he will have a skill for a lifetime.

Look at yourself for a moment. There are hundreds of professional development opportunities available to educators. Which ones do you attend? You attend the ones that are intriguing to you. You attend the ones that you feel have value to what you are doing. You attend the ones that will provide you meaningful information that you can take with you and implement right away. You wouldn't attend a professional development opportunity that seemed of no value because you wouldn't want to waste your time. You have the freedom to choose what you want to attend. You have AUTONOMY. There is PURPOSE. You are searching for MASTERY. You are innately driven and motivated as a result of that autonomy, mastery, and purpose. See Daniel Pink's DRIVE.

Now, take a look at our students. They must attend school each day. They must attend six periods a day. They must attend the courses that their schedule outlines for them. The drive to be motivated becomes tough at this point. That is where the classroom environment is such a key factor. How can you design your classroom environment so that all students are engaged, all students find purpose/relevance, all students are valued, and all students are encouraged to engage in student led learning? It takes a mind-shift. Some of you are already beginning to design learning spaces like this. Kudos to you!! Many of you want to change your learning spaces but aren't sure where to begin. I also know that some of your are skeptical that change is needed.

While at Crystal we had two years where we offered a full day of student led, student designed learning. Teachers were not teachers on those days they were facilitators. There were no grades. What happened? Students planned out an entire day of learning for themselves. They planned out their day based on what they were interested in. Students were the most engaged we had ever seen them. Students were so excited about their learning. Here is a video that captures a few of those moments. What if you designed your classroom to be so innovative that you were the facilitator and students led the learning? It is a challenge I pose to each of you. Is there anyone willing or ready to take that on?

There is a teacher that I have been following for awhile on Twitter. His name is Don Wettrick and he works at Noblesville High School in Noblesville, Indiana. You can follow him on Twitter @DonWettrick. His webpage has a plethora of resources on Genius Hour, (student led project based learning), please check it out:

Our ONE goal: To graduate every Fairfield High Student and to ensure that they leave FHS college and career ready!!! Inspire, Engage, Excite, Lead, Foster, Create, Empower!!

Many more great things are in store for Fairfield High!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


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