For the month of April, I am participating in the Blog A Day Challenge for educators. All prompts are provided by Meredith Towne (@BklynMeredith), an educator from New York.
I am somewhat resistant to change.
Funny thing is, I teach subjects that are constantly changing, and I use hardware that requires me to embrace change.
I’ve written over on my other blog about how teaching with iPads has really challenged me to try new things in my classroom. But at the end of the day, I’m a creature of habit, a creature that is fond of my cage, and change is hard. Here’s the hardest change for me right now:
Part of my resistance to student-led learning is fear–I don’t want to make myself obsolete. But part of my resistance to student-led learning is experience. Example: for the first two days of my film unit in Pop Culture Studies, I lecture for two days about film history. Every semester, I offer students the opportunity to explore the resources on their own and learn about film history at their own pace and select from a menu of assessments and learning evidences. Every semester, they are unanimous: just give us the information.
When I tell them they will spend two painful days taking notes, several students tell me my lectures aren’t painful at all (which, admittedly, feeds my ego a bit; I try to lecture in the style of “engaging storyteller” and this feedback validates me), and other students bluntly tell me if I gave them time to explore the content on their own, they would just end up on YouTube watching World of Warcraft gamers bite the dust.
I give them points for honesty.
So I read about idealized classrooms that are student-led, where students take charge of their own learning and somehow score high on tests, and I try to figure out how I can make that change in my classroom.
I make small strides occasionally; I look for ways to incorporate more student choice in assessments and content acquisition. But this is a change I can’t quite seem to make, at least with my Pop Culture class. I get closer in my other classes–the classes that ask students to create a product of some kind. So I tend to focus on my photography/design class and my writing class and newspaper, of course, and look for ways to hand over the learning to those students.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully let go. I don’t even know if that’s the expectation, even though I’m internalizing the message that it is. But at least I am always aware, always thinking in the back of my mind that it is something to strive for. And maybe for right now, being aware and looking for the opportunities is good enough.