This year has been one of the most difficult years I’ve had as a teacher. Moving towards a more collaborative based structure with my students as planners has been a real struggle. Behavior and the ability to self reflect does not change in one year, yet I’m more than happy to take on that challenge.
Planning for students has always been something that most teachers, me included, have done. Teacher training, professional development, and other colleagues have mentored into planning for students. Nope, this year I want to plan with students.
As I reflect on this school year, it’s been an exciting time to see how collaborative students can be, but also fairly disheartening when watching students slide back into old ways. I have to ask myself, what’s the reason for this happening and I can bet that students are feeling left out of the planning.
Now they are planning together. I’m out of the picture and that’s the way it should be.
Planning is something that we need to include all students in, not just making a goal for reading or math, but something that helps them see the bigger picture, one they can grasp. These last few weeks I have included students in the planning of a children’s museum all about flight. I wanted to have them plan with me, so that they can have more ownership in the end product. Students have really taken this and blossomed. Sure we have behavior problems, but they drop dramatically when students are working on items that we have planned together.
I’ll leave you with an image that I’ll keep with me for a long time. Imagine a student, disconnected from their peers because of a behavior problem, constantly talking and not being able to stop it. Now that student gets involved in their exhibit and can honestly spend hours creating and refining and collaborating. Students flock to him to see his creations, hear his words of encouragement for their work, and to give feedback. Now they are planning together. I’m out of the picture and that’s the way it should be. That image of a student who feels left out in an older setting of school now makes me have an even bigger drive to plan with students.
Enough of the planning FOR, we plan with and students will grow. When we have discussions and truly listen to students’ ideas, make plans with them, and encourage them to explore is when true learning happens. I’m encouraged by this year, no matter the trials. I’ve seen what true collaboration can do and that’s something I would like to recreate for all my future classes.