Thursday, January 7, 2016

Colleen's Mid-Year Pause for the Cause

1. Looking Back

It was pretty exciting when a student who was very hesitant, nervous, and shy about conducting an interview finally did so and then set up a second interview! In a recent blog post, she explained how she has already gained confidence from this experience. I love hearing directly from students that they've grown in some way from this course. I wonder how we can celebrate or at least recognize more of these moments in our students. 

2. Upcoming Overnight

I love all the time for group work. Groups need to dig in and grapple with their ideas, not to mention the technology! I know for certain that my group is hoping for direct instruction on how to use the editing tools. Do we plan to provide this instruction either verbally or through some published resources? I hope so! 

3. Message to Future WtS? Colleagues

To be a part of this team is to truly reconsider education and how students learn. After spending a few hours providing narrative feedback to students about their blog posts and learning targets, I immediately visited with a colleague. "This way we are providing feedback to these students is so wonderful," I told her, "how can we do this in our own classrooms?" Well. That is potentially a downfall of being part of the WtS team. You will realize how unique and special it is to have a large group of educators (some you see and talk to often, others who are behind the scenes that you may never see) who are excited about this work and have a passion for teaching. It is not possible to do exactly this kind of work or this type of assessment and feedback in the regular classroom (there simply is not enough hours in the day). But it is possible to insert bits of what we do in WtS to your regular classroom, and that is exciting. WtS is sort of this magical bubble of education where anything seems possible (I know-so corny, right?), and that can be a nice feeling after a long week with 100 grumbling students, lengthy faculty meetings, and snippety parents (I swear, I really truly love my teaching job. But, you know...). This process has made me pay attention to what my students need: direct feedback about their work (not some arbitrary number or letter grade), constant check-ins and encouragement, and choice in what and how they learn. The collaboration aspect of this course is also unlike anything I've experienced in my regular teaching gig. I love the way I can bounce ideas off of teachers and share the prep, grading, and "teaching." Finally, you will be inspired by the collaboration of the students. When given the freedom and choice, these students become so driven and passionate. Combined with other driven and passionate individuals creates--dare I use the word again?--a magical environment of authentic learning. 

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