This post marks the start of a new educational related journey for me. I’ve decided to go back to school and further my understanding of the best practices available to engage and motivate my learners. I’m part of a small cohort #tiegrad and our first assignment is to create a media clip based on our educational interests.
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I’ve been involved in education in Chilliwack since 2007 and I currently work at Central Elementary Community School. I am looking forward to the program but I am a little nervous about being able to juggle life, work, and school, especially with my first baby on the way. The last few years have been extremely satisfying as an educator. I’ve have started to develop a voice in education, continually try to improve my craft, and started to myself questions like, “What kind of learning environment am I creating?” “Does the activity I’m asking students to do relate to the learning outcome?” and “Am I feeding my students knowledge or posing questions to which we can discover the answers to together?”
I have several areas of interest I’d like to share with. One area of interested is a part of my weekly schedule I have coined CHOICE – Children Have Ownership In Choice Education. You might know it as genius hour, enquiry learning, or personalized learning. I think it’s important to create time in the weekly schedule where students are encouraged to find their passions and explore them. During CHOICE, I don’t plan to have too many answers for students, but plenty of questions. I can visualize what it looks like, to some extent, but I’m having difficulty creating a framework to suit all my learners. I wanted to include it in my schedule last year but couldn’t find the right time. Perhaps the right time is not when everything is aligned, but now. I read Will Richardson’s book “Why School?” last year and I loved Larry Rosenstock’s quote:
“We have to stop delivering the curriculum to kids. We have to start discovering it with them.”
I get it! It makes sense to me, but I still wonder what it looks like for all my students. I am looking forward to reading Angela Maiers, “The Passion-Driven Classroom” which I believe speaks to this type of learning.
Another area of interest to me is self-regulation. I work in an inner-city school with a disproportionately high number of at-risk children. Many of these children are either too stimulated or not stimulated enough to partake in the learning process. The need to develop students’ ability to self-regulate has become glaring obvious to everyone who works in my school, so this year I’m working with a new program called MindUP curriculum developed by the Goldie Hawn Foundation. MindUP teaches social and emotional learning skills, brain science, a positive mindset, and mindful awareness. Right now we’re working on deep breathing techniques, and will soon be learning about important parts of the brain, and how signals in our brain get blocked during times of stress and over stimulation.
I‘m an avid Twitter user and have found real value in Twitter over the years, particularly when developing learning networks, making connections, and working to improving my craft. I like to explore student-learning networks in more depth. The thought of my own students making connections with other students, teachers, professionals from around the world who work in fields they are interested in excites me no end. I’ve tried them with students with mixed success but never with a whole class.
Game-based learning is an area of education that fascinates me. I’ve just finished reading Now You See It by Cathy Davidson and in her books she talks about designing lesson in a gaming format where lessons allow for risk taking, meaningful creation, nonlinear navigation, problem solving, and an understanding of rule structures So many of my students play video games and are engaged, motivated, and incredibly creative with them. Nothing would please me more than to transfer some of those experiences into the classroom.
Finally, I have to let you into a little secret. All the areas of professional interest I’ve mentioned already pale in comparison to what gets me up in the morning. Four years ago I took my grade 6’s to Free The Children’s We Day in Vancouver, and that one experience change my views on education and what’s really important in school. Building positive healthy relationships with one another, exercising tolerance, forgiveness, and above all else caring for one another is what really matters. Thanks to We Day, my classroom has become a hub for social justice issues both globally and locally. We fight hunger, stand against inequality, educate our local community about homelessness and water issues, and advocate for human rights.
I look forward to learning and sharing with you.