I spent the day with other Surrey School District (#sd36learn) educators at a session with George Couros (@gcouros). The challenge to us as teachers was this: if we are going to expect kids to do it, we have to do it first. The world, namely the digital world, in which we live is a place that can afford opportunities to kids that we didn’t have when I was a student in school. If we are going to ask students to blog about their learning, then we as teachers need to do the same. George asked those of us with blogs to answer this question:
What is the best thing you did this year?
For me the best thing I did this year was to attend two edcamps. The first one I attended was at Garibaldi Secondary School in Maple Ridge. It was great to be in conversations with other educators from other districts as well as administrators, trustees, parents etc. Everyone there had an interest in education and what is in the best interest for students. The session that has had the biggest impact was one by Chris Wejr (@MrWejr) on Awards, Rewards, and Punishment. The message was to focus on student strengths because they all have them even if we have to look a little harder in some children. The idea of moving from an honour roll, which is related to grades, to honouring all asks us to reflect on what our purpose for school and awards is. Is it to create winners and losers, albeit well intentioned and unintended, or to focus on the best in all students in a school? It forces us to reflect on what we believe the purpose of school is and how we treat students in our school.
The second edcamp I attended I invited two of my Grade 12 students to attend with me. They spoke passionately about how using inquiry gave them ownership over their learning and how they were more engaged when using inquiry to study a topic. Chris (@MrWejr) assures me a post is in the works about the impact of their message. What I have learned from including students in the conversation about what is working in their schooling is that we need to continue to actively seek out the perspective of those we are teaching. We have to ask them to be honest and we have to be ready to hear what they have to say. Students know what works and doesn’t in their learning. Unfortunately many of them don’t make their voice heard because of fear of repercussions, often in the grade book, or because they aren’t asked. I have learned that if I want to move my practice forward I have to have a continual conversation with my students about what is working, what is not and what we can do to make it work.
Have you solicited feedback about your practice from your students? If so, how did it impact your teaching and learning about your teaching? I’d be interested to hear your stories.