This morning I read @davidwees’s well written, sad but true, post entitled A Day in the Life of a Student. From that child’s perspective, school is a pointless and unrewarding experience. And yes, we need to work hard to change that model of school. But school doesn’t have to look like that. My inspiration for this post comes from some of the wonderful bloggers who share their practice generously with the world…
A ( different) day in the life of a student…
I wake up in the morning earlier than I want to. I’d rather stay in bed… but wouldn’t everyone? Once fully awake though, I remember some of the exciting things happening at school and feel more positive about the day ahead.
I arrive at school and jostle through the over crowded hallway to get to Mr Rice’s science class. I look forward to science because Mr Rice has a way of hooking me in with a provocation that gets my imagination going. He asks questions that get me thinking of even more questions, rather than answers. I love the way he gives us plenty of time to gather materials and find things out for ourselves, but helps us figure out stuff if we need him. I always know if I’m on the right track because he gives me constructive, explicit feedback. Today we’re playing with cornstarch and water to see what happens and I’m so engaged in my learning that I don’t even notice when the bell goes!
You wouldn’t believe it, but my next class is ‘show and tell’. I haven’t done that since I was 7! Mr Spencer is an awesome writer and genuinely caring person, not just a teacher. He really listens to what we say, but more than that, he hears what I don’t say too. Bringing something personal for today’s class is an opportunity to give something of myself in a secure setting. I can tell that Mr Spencer cares about what I’ve brought and wants to know more about why I’ve chosen it, which makes it a little easier to open up and share something so personal with the whole class. I know it’s helping him see me as a whole person with a story of my own.
I have a math test in my next class. I usually hate tests because learning is collaborative and suddenly they expect you to do everything on your own. Sometimes I panic because they say the grades are important and so I forget things I actually knew how to do. It’s different in Mr Lee’s class because of the Twitter back-channel. I look forward to tests! We use our handheld devices to communicate with each other if we need some support. Sounds like cheating doesn’t it? But it isn’t really, because math is not about getting an answer, it’s about a process. Collaboration is a key part of functioning in society today after all, and memorization isn’t.
I’m taking my lunch to Ms Miller’s Bloggers Cafe. She knows I have better things to do after school, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to write. Blogging helps me reflect on my learning and Ms Miller says I’m developing my writing skills. Reading blogs by students around the world gives me a better understanding of other people and other cultures. But the most motivating thing of all is to find comments on my posts, written by people I don’t even know yet. Knowing I have a real live audience makes me want to write more and more.
It’s easy to forget that my next class takes place in a room with four walls. We use Skype with Ms Tolisano to learn from and with other teachers and learners around the world. This makes learning really meaningful. I mean, it’s not like teachers know everything there is to know and this is the 21st century, so why not communicate with people out there in every way that’s possible? For our research into Christopher Columbus, she called for ‘experts’ worldwide to Skype with us, teachers and classes of all ages and backgrounds, to help us gain the broadest perspective possible. Who would have thought learning could be so cool?
I could go on and on. There are enough innovative teachers out there doing brilliant things to fill thousands of blog posts every day.
Educational reform? One passionate teacher at a time.