Voice and choice has to be an option

It is probably the worst thing to ask a veteran teacher to do: let loose the reigns. Now, I didn’t say let go of the reigns. I’m just saying let loose a little. Voice and choice are so important for our kids to buy-in to what the teacher is selling. There are a number of ways to really accept this process including changing the title of teacher to lead learner.

In White Oak ISD, we entrust our PBL training to Dayna Laur. Dayna is a longtime, classroom practitioner and has an uncanny way of working key ideas into what the teacher can currently associate with. Take her connection of empowering authentic learning and worksheets:

If you haven’t already, perhaps you should take the time to watch the very powerful 2010 TedTalk by Adora Svitak. I could certainly write volumes on why the practice of worksheet education and low level Bloom’s is doing nothing but perpetuating a nation of students who are being taught not to think for themselves. However, Adora does an amazing job articulating this point through the words of a child. “What Adults Can Learn From Kids” reviews the lack of trust from which teachers operate in their classrooms. The lack of trust that causes teachers to place restrictions on their students, rather than letting them flourish. Near the end of her talk, Adora challenges teachers and adults, “not to turn kids into adults like you, but to turn kids into adults better than you.” In order to do this, we must move beyond the era of worksheets.

Worksheets are a prescribed curriculum no matter how you cut it. There’s no creativity in handing out worksheets, and there is little educational benefit. Sure, some short-term practice will occur, but that’s not our goal. Sure, worksheets are aligned with test prep, but that’s not our goal. Sure, worksheets are easy because they tear right out of the workbook the ISD pays tens of thousands of dollars for each year, but that’s not our goal.

Our goal is long-term learning by lifelong learners. We can be as cynical as we want about it never happening because we will never have 100% of our students who want to be in a classroom. So, is that the reason we shouldn’t improve the learning process for the vast majority of our students who really would take an interest in their own learning if it actually became their own learning. Ownership. That’s something voice and choice will help gain.

Crossposted in PLP Discussion Group.

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