Lost in the Learning

After reading Michael BondClegg’s post about timetables, which got the wheels turning in my mind again, I remembered that I had been meaning to write about two reflections by one of my students in response to the learning she had planned.

Students have been planning their days for a while now. Taryn helped me get the ball rolling, and it’s one of those things that has changed the face of our learning so much that we can’t go back; we don’t want to go back. It’s incredible how it has transformed the environment from ‘waiting to learn’ to ‘can’t wait to learn’. The benefits to the students’ time-management and reflection skills has been enormous, and it has also helped me identify better where, when and how to intervene to amplify the learning.

Anyway, here are the reflections:

March 5th 2018

This is my daily plan of today! So today I started with science, and I answered the Galileo questions, next i did some unit. After break and P.E. I planed to do some maths, but then I said my self today I was not in the mood for maths like everyday.😂 So I concentrated in genre writing, and wrote some poems. 

March 14th 2018

Today most of the time I did maths, because I wanted to improve my knowledge in time. I didn’t do the writing because I did science but, you know when you do something and then you get SO concentrated that you don’t remember what you wanted to do next? That, that happened to me. Next I want to do some writing, I didn’t do writing that much this week. 📝✍️

This is the line that got to me the most: ‘you know when you do something and then you get SO concentrated that you don’t remember what you wanted to do next? That, that happened to me.’

That’s kind of what Michael is talking about when we respect students’ choices, help them access deep learning, and not cut off their creativity.

First, it made me happy, I mean this would never have happened if I was making all the decisions. But then I realised that the students were still thinking of all the tasks they had to do. Not easy to get lost in your learning if you’ve got a list to tick off each day. Also, some students were disappointed if they didn’t do what they had planned. That wasn’t what was supposed to happen!

There are always bumps along the road…

So, recently students have not been planning their whole day from start to finish but, instead, they are setting goals for the week, deciding how they will achieve those goals and thinking about how they will know they have achieved them. At the end of the week, they reflect on whether they achieved their goals, what helped or hindered them, and set new goals for the following week. This has helped students avoid thinking that they must change task just because they decided that they would do so at a certain time. This tended to happen because that was what they had been doing for so long, and the planning sheet they were given was too similar to a regular timetable. Now, they have the option to add more goals and make adjustments throughout the week, and they refer to the planning sheet on a daily basis, but they needn’t be overly concerned by time constraints when they are ‘in the zone’.  My job hasn’t changed much from guiding them to balance their choices during the week and helping them develop their skills and understanding through conferencing with them and offering workshops tailored to their needs.

Now it’s enough for me to ask them what they want to learn, and off they go. Hopefully to get a little lost.

7 thoughts on “Lost in the Learning

  1. Hi Westley,
    Thanks for your post which I really enjoyed. The whole notion of “traditional timetables” has always been a real stumbling block for me and your post and Michael’s have further inspired me to continue encouraging, supporting and modelling this with teachers at my school. I see this as one way of helping teachers “let go” of control as part of that pedagogical shift towards enabling and empowering learner agency.
    I agree that moving from a daily plan to a weekly one for the students would allow more freedom and also help them (and us!) see that the day doesn’t have to be broken into segments (subjects!) of learning. Would love to see the format your learners use to plan their weekly goals etc if you are happy to share
    Keep up the good fight and sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also enjoyed reading this! It is so interesting to see how we are all approaching things differently and the iterations that occur because of our own students/school’s needs (as much as I can do on my own, there are still school-wide constraints my class need to abide by right now). My class started with weekly planning, but not in such a wide sense. We then realised we were planning way too far ahead, like you have mentioned, and are now into daily planning (with the exception of workshops). We are shifting some focus now towards goals as well so it was interesting to see the direction your class has taken. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, Cindy. When I first gave students the chance to plan their days I invited the leaders in to observe and they were enthused by the engagement and independence the students were showing. I shared the idea in a staff meeting but so far the idea hasn’t been discussed further as a way to enable student agency; it’s just a option that others can try if they feel like it. I know it can take a while for ideas to take off and for some to see the benefit when it looks so different to what has been going on up until now. But it has been great to see a few teachers trying it out in my school and hearing positive comments.
      I have read about how you have been introducing similar student led planning and I think we have both been tweaking it constantly to meet their needs and find a way that works best!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Westley,

    It was delightful reading your post. We are struggling with our structured time tabling and though our PYP teachers understand the need for flexibility and allow for learning slots to be juggled around keeping learning in the centre, we still have the boxes on the time table staring at us like a scary reminder we choose to ignore. It is insightful that your students and you together are able to discern the difference between completion of tasks viz a viz to mindful learning.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Cheers!
    Abhi

    Liked by 1 person

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