You’re out for dinner at one of your favourite restaurants about to order your favourite menu item (which you’ve eaten multiple times before because its delicious!) when all of a sudden the waiter tells you about tonight’s special – something wild and exotic that you’ve never tried before, like octopus ravioli. It sounds enticing and you want to order it, but you’re reluctant to pass on old reliable – spaghetti and meatballs – because you know it will make you happy.
The age old dilemma of trying something different and new, or sticking with what’s comforting and predictable. It comes up a lot in teaching. Do you you pull an old lesson plan out of the file box or play with an idea that’s been nagging you? The latter has more potential for excitement and discovery, but can also result in complete and utter failure.
As I reflected on all my colossal classroom flops from the past year, one thing that struck me was how much – despite hair-pulling frustration at the time – I had gained from every single one of them. In fact, I actually learned quite a lot more from experimenting and failing than I did by succeeding with tried and tested methods.
This made me curious about how other teachers approached the subject. One thing that became clear during last week’s discussion was how unafraid teachers are of taking risks with their craft. For most, experimentation is central to being an effective teacher.
(“Worth his salt” – I like that expression. It sounds old schoool!
Good on ya Barb! I hope I can say the same thing 25 years from now. Thankfully, we have teachers like yourself to connect with on twitter. I loved how eager everyone was to share their own learning experiences with experimentation in their classrooms…
(Well, the ego’s not THAT important…is it?)
(As a perfectionist, something I have to remind myself constantly!)
I’m totally stealing some of these. So many new ideas!
Of course, teachers expressed the need for a supportive environment, where risk-taking is encouraged and failure is accepted…
We even heard from some Ed leaders on how they inspire their teachers to experiment!
(The risk-taker motto!)
(Love the open-mindedness here!)
In the end experimentation is what school’s all about: Imagination, investigation, discovery, learning and FUN!
After all, what does anyone have to gain without getting out there and trying new things!
Cross-posted at Principals in Training
This video is the product of two students (Ben Enbom and John Hassen) at my school, Sir Francis Drake High School. The ONLY thing I did was give them the driving question. We collaborated on this project – well, it’s more like I mooched off of their artistry and passion for film. I didn’t follow them around, I didn’t pick the people they interviewed, I didn’t review the final edit. We talked ahead of time about my general ideas for this week’s chat and I trusted them to do the right thing. And guess what? They did the right thing. Why am I so un-surprised? I see kids doing the right thing all the time – they just want more opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the mini-verses of our schools…and beyond.
I’ve thought this question over for years – long before I stepped into my “authority/boss” role as assistant principal: while education certainly is a service we provide, the best classes I’ve been a part of (as a teacher, as an observer) feel like startups – everyone working shoulder-to-shoulder to create something unique. It got me thinking: do we really want to continue a model where we TELL kids what to do and how to do it, or do we partner up as co-workers? If we want them to be college/life/universe ready when they depart our (high school) shores, shouldn’t we give them the chance to ACTUALLY have a say in how those four years go?
I threw down a CHALLENGE in advance of the chat: (more…)