Shift is happening... a bit

Developing Cultures of Learning

There are a few encouraging events that have occurred over the past few weeks that signal to me that a change in stances about teaching and learning are occurring.

1) We host the robotics team every Wednesday in the learning commons. Admittedly, I do not know enough about the coding and the Arduino as I would like, (one of our grade 5 students regularly goes off on tangents and it takes me awhile to decode what he is saying... but I get there) but I still get asked to assist every now and then.

One student in particular called me over because he couldn't get his code and wiring to work on the Arduino simulation he was running. When I went over...I commented, I would help as much as I could, but I didn't know everything.

He responded: "What? You're not an expert? I thought you were the expert!"

To which I responded that we were all in this together - and it was our responsibility to all be teachers and learners.

He nodded his head and got back to work.

It is now an unwritten expectation amongst all the robotics teams to share their learning with each other.

2) We had introduced our Primary Coding team (a select group of students from grades 1 and 2 to Scratch Jr a few weeks back. During a collaborative work period in the library learning commons, we read the Forest of Reading book Stanley Goes to School. After reading the story, students had a variety of maker activities to explore - one of them being recounting the story using Scratch code.

One of the girls from the coding club immediately assumed ownership of the teaching in this area, and kept saying: "Who needs help? I am the expert, I can help you!"

It was refreshing to see the students take charge of learning and not be dependent on teacher led instruction.

3) Three things happened last week in the learning commons that were worth mentioning. Before the March break began, we had a "March Break Extravaganza" where students could sign up for different activities. Myself and a few coworkers that I collaborate with quite regularly were in the makerspace.

  • One of my colleagues (while we were setting up) got the students organized and prefaced the activities with the expectation that the teachers weren't here to instruct the learning, but we were all here to explore, tinker and solve problems together (it's just nice to hear other people say it)
  • Students nodded their heads like this was something that they were expecting. (what?!?) One student even clarified: "So we will have to teach each other how to do it?" I could have cried.
  • It was also interesting to see student ownership evolving and how students were able share teaching and learning responsibilities as the class went on. No one gave up, no one quit.

While these events taken in isolation may not seem to be much, it is a huge step for me to recognizing that a shift in learning and teaching practices in our school is beginning to happen.