This was originally posted in authors personal blog Empower 2 Be…
How can the classroom, schedule and planning documents, reflect a true transdisciplinary approach to student directed learning?
This is the question that led my own personal inquiry journey over the last 9 months. I started this school year facing a challenging class. Add to this that I have found myself at a point in my career where I was questioning who I was as a teacher…when had I become so controlled by schedules…by standards…by the stress of the need to be seen as doing it all correctly? As we have all experienced at one stage or another, the lessons that we love and enjoy teaching are often the ones that the students pick up on and thrive in. What was I going to do with this class that really didn’t seem like they would cope well with a teacher with an identity crisis!
Over the past 2 years I have become more and more of a Twitter reader…there are so many ideas, articles, blogs…posted that I was loving how it allowed me to find inspiration from others in such an accessible way. This is where I heard about Student Agency, Student Directed Learning and Project Based Learning on repeat. Of course I had heard all these buzz terms at school and in PD’s but all of a sudden I was beginning to see it all in a practical sense. Maybe this is what I needed to truly access and differentiate for my class of learners this year…
Reasons for my TIA:
- PYP junkie
- Miss leading a classroom through inquiry
- Time to stop stressing and start doing
- Looking for an authentic way to help my very diverse group of learners
- Looking for ways to have my students make deeper connections
What Am I Wanting to Achieve?
- Students gaining a deeper understanding of Units of Inquiries
- Students being more aware of their strengths and weaknesses
- Students taking responsibility for their learning journey
- Students maximising their learning style
- Students interact with learning objectives authentically
- Opportunities for action are genuinely available
But how do I do all of this while covering the learning objectives and ensuring the students were staying on task? How do I make sure I am meeting the needs of everyone if I am not controlling everything? How do I fight my fear of failure?
Baby steps…that is what I decided was needed. First things first…this timetable!
Trans-cending the Timetable:
And finally, now, to this…
The original timetable for the class was very clinical and predetermined. It said what subject would be posted when. It did not leave a lot of room for student agency and did not require the students use self awareness of their own abilities to take responsibility for what they should focus on. UOI was listed as a subject and there was a lack of transdisciplinary vision. The first revised timetable split the time spent in the classroom in half showing a balance of teacher led time and student determined transdisciplinary inquiry.
By the time I revised it again “Inquiry Work” became “Student Directed Learning” (SDL) as I quickly realised that not all tasks they were scheduling for themselves were inquiry focused…some were skill focused, where they realised they just needed to practice. I had been able to collaborate with the learning support and EAL teachers about pushing in their time in an inclusive manner where we would collaborate on workshops we would all lead that ALL students would be able to access, not just the students on their “books”. iTime was absorbed into the SDL time at the request of the students…”You know Ms Mel, I would really prefer to use Friday afternoon for Writers Workshop. Is it ok for me to do iTime at another time during the week?” All of a sudden this schedule really was “OUR” schedule, the students were a part of the logistics of it all. It was also one of those moments where I could see the shift in the students having ownership over their own learning and the confidence to express their ideas!
Since I wrote the above another edit has occurred…during the SDL times there are now Student Led Workshops. Students have started offering their own workshops to their classmates as a way of becoming more confident and skilled in communication as well as solidifying their understandings. My favourite quote was when Cody said, “Ms Mel, I would really like to offer a workshop on using different strategies to solve 2 by 2 digit multiplication. I am not 100% sure I am totally good at it but I think this would help me to see what I still need to work on. Is this ok?” YES it is ok you risk-taker you!