I recently held a session with our teachers that are applying for our district's 21C (1:1) Classroom Grant. The grant places an emphasis on project based learning, the "4 C's" (collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking), and meaningful technology integration.
The pointers that I gave during the application prep session were designed to help the teachers construct a vision of what a classroom "should" be- more student-centered than teacher-led, more global than local, more active than passive, collaborative over individual, more creative, authentic, etc.
I asked teachers to compare their application (and classroom practices) to the following Transformative Learning Environment Quadrants.
I also spent some time on what meaningful technology integration would look like. In short, the focus should be on the content and an attempt to do new things in new ways rather than old things in old ways.
As a result, one of our teachers, Mrs. Hester, posted “Project Based Learning- My Questions” to her blog.
As I read her post, I could feel the potential anxiety that a teacher might have while attempting to transition to a truly transformative learning environment.
My response to her…
Mrs. Hester, great blog post. Scary, huh?
It’s almost like starting over and being a first year teacher again isn’t it? Only worse…because now you KNOW. Back then you didn’t and ANY plan was a good plan. But now you KNOW…and that knowledge helps you realize that creating a truly transformative learning environment isn’t an easy thing to do.
Simply adding technology, whether that’s 1:1, 1:Many, or BYOD, doesn't do the trick.
How do you relinquish control to students? How do you help create authentic, real world questions? How do you do this on a DAILY basis? What does it look like?
Scary stuff indeed.
With a nod to opening day today, my encouragement for Mrs. Hester comes from a baseball batting percentage analogy. Some of the greatest baseball players only bat .300. Others ball players, handsomely paid for their greatness, hit substantially under .300.
We/you won’t/don’t knock it out of the park every day.
It’s all about having a growth mindset. It’s all about continually seeking improvement.
Is my classroom a transformative learning environment? What steps can I take now to move in that direction? Did those steps work? How can I improve?
So, Mrs. Hester, I’m excited about your journey and will help as much as I can. In the meantime, swing for the fences and realize that batting .300 isn't a bad thing if...IF you’re constantly striving, with a growth mindset, to bat a thousand.
P.S. Please visit Mrs. Hester's blog and give her some feedback too. Thanks!