Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Great American Teach In

What would a perfect learning space look like?

Before I start, I have a confession to make. That's actually a question I've honestly never really considered. I guess I've spent too much time reflecting on what my current learning space looks like--and how I want to make a different one in ten years--to even think about what I think it ought to look like now. There's my little bit of self-reflection done for the day.



So here's what's coming into my mind:

1. Students have a right to know about the various instruction methods available.

I guess this is really my third post (see here and here) in which this idea has made its appearance, but it's an important idea: There are large groups of people out there with no idea what project-based or inquiry-based learning are. Until this school year, I was one of them. I simply didn't know that there were better things out there that I could be getting. Therefore, I never asked for it.

2. Schools should be willing to work for students instead of vice versa when it comes to scheduling.

I know I'm not the only person to write a post on this idea, but it's another idea that matters a lot to me. Students have a certain path that they will end up following, and if this path involves going beyond the typical high school curriculum, they should be able to do it, regardless of "minimum graduation requirements," "only six classes a day," etc.

3. The methods used to assess students should truly assess skills and knowledge.

Oftentimes, students, including myself, get so caught up in what their grade is that we lose sight of whether or not we are truly learning. In a perfect learning system, there would be a correlation between the knowledge and the ways in which the students are objectified. (Of course, my perfect learning system would also be SBAR-based.)

4. Students have a responsibility to provide feedback to their teachers.

Let's be honest: I belong to a generation that, as a whole, is not famous for its communication skills.We (at least around here) need to work on calmly addressing teachers when we have a complaint instead of telling peers about how evil that teacher in Room 304 is.

5. Class sizes are small.

My fourth hour, with Chris Ludwig, has about twenty-five students. Sixth hour is next door, so I often step into his class during this time. On a normal day, there's about ten kids in there, but only three today because all of our seniors are essentially gone. And the one thing that really hit me was the incredible change in atmosphere from fourth hour. It's so much more laid back, relaxed, and open--and it really is a preferable change.

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