This week we had to move from the field to the MPH due to setting up for the PTO’s annual bazaar that’s happening tomorrow. As I sat and watched the kids playing volleyball I noticed the following. To be clear, this isn’t supposed to be a sweeping generalisation about the attitudes or behaviors of boys vs girls, it is simply an observation from today.
The boys spent the majority of their time deciding on teams, arguing if the hits were in or out and worrying about which team was winning. There were several boys that I’m quite certain never touched the ball.
The girls got in a circle and simply passed the ball around. Laughing, working together to see how long they could keep the ball in the air. Mistakes were not reason for berating each other, but a reason to laugh and take a short break.
The connection here is pretty simple and applicable to so many circumstances, but I’m looking at it through a classroom lens. If we continue to stand at the front of the room and its teachers versus students, there are going to be kids who never get a touch. But if we can turn the tables a bit and work with our students, there are so many chances to see smiles all around.
The call for change in education is loud but slow. We have to step up and see our students more as colleagues than as our subjects who need to listen and do as we say. If we can open the discussion and give our students a voice in the classroom, make them feel like they are collaborating instead of simply cooperating, I think we will see a huge difference.
Technology gives us a perfect opportunity to explore this new path. With a little planning and vision we can offer students a world of possibilities through a blended learning classroom that encourages students to learn and create with technology. We cannot simply step aside and hand students a laptop, but we can point them in the right directions, curate resources for them, guide them in proper use and help them decide when to put it way and use good old pens and paper. It gives us the chance to work with smaller groups, for students to choose their own paths and paces and to find answers to those random questions kids always ask.
Will it be perfect in the beginning? Of course not. But when we are comfortable in a group, we can laugh at those mistakes, take a minute to talk about them and maybe come up with a new strategy and then toss the ball right back in to play.
Something that I’ve been wanting to write-up and share is a distance learning experiment that my class just did in which students were allowed to go where they wished in the building to learn, and we used primarily instant message and email to communicate, along with face to face appointments at certain times that they booked. The products that they produced around their big question were fascinating, and it led to a lot of great conversations about how we best learn.
Keep it up, Ryan!