...and just like that many of us are back in class, face-to-face! In New Zealand anyway... So, how do I find it? Do the kids have learner loss? Nope! As one who partnered with four contrasting teams of (9-60 year old old) students, coupled with years of playing with what's possible, daring to be bold, I'm a happy camper!
I'll confess to a having a pre-lockdown 'celebration' of sorts when 'Online Learning' was to become a focus. It was to the tune of 'Yes! Now we'll see some seriously robust education kick in!' Evidence evolved depicting:
Meaningful global partnerships.
Conscious curiosity around online learning.
Deliberate redesigning of curriculums.
Purposeful Professional Development...
...and that's just a taste of how teachers took to the fun!
As for the students, I had the best fun, with the greatest outcomes that I've had in over 16 years...
I'll acknowledge a vast variation in how I had to roll - but where the ducks lined up extraordinarily well, the doors 'now open' are like that dream come true. A team of 10 year old students, who barely knew how to manage anything more than an app on iPad pre-lockdown, came out as thee most stunning winners.
I chose to open the 'floor' to the students, rather than design much for them at all. At best, I gave them a virtual blank canvass, to design their own programme. In order of hype that evolved, students
designed activities for each other!
met up in Zoom's breakout rooms to discuss much!
built projects - that'll take months to pull off!
created international partnerships
developed 'virtual lounges' and 'studios' to work in
built websites, worked smarter and learnt more!
What made this example possible - in the first instance, was the utter freedom to design the programming I chose. I wasn't locked into one-size-fits-all 'syndicate' mandates, boss led 'do's and don'ts' or 'rules'.
Student voice is, I believe mismanaged in schools. By and large, 'it's a collection of their thinking and feedback on their learning to improve teaching, learning and school-wide decision making. A source of data within existing pedagogy, systems and procedures. It's to contribute to the next-steps for the students and guides decisions about content and approaches by teachers' (see source).
Bah-humbug it should be! In part - yes, but this puts teachers at the centre of the story - not the kids. It's the kids who need to be at the centre of their story. I choose not to have them inform me about content and my approach - but themselves. While arguably, my design is to let them take this lead - I don't take over, for then it defaults back to 'the teachers' court' again. This is their ball... Let them serve it and play. As ref only, I but facilitate, I'm not to be playing and controlling the deciding factors.
The trickiest angle was heading back to class with just iPads. Tough also - was ensuring we didn't 'go back to pre lockdown 'traditional' expectations re programming. Lastly, there was a whole team of kids who had little if any access to our Lockdown 'agile style' to consider. Some were held back by parental restraints, anti 'the style' - others, the lack of bandwidth - on various fronts.
What has been absolutely gorgeous, is the incredible boost in student ownership, outlook and outward view of what learning can really entail. With whom, how and why - and even when and where has all had a new lease of life. That learning is more than 'school stuff' with the teacher, a pen and paper, has well moved on.
Roll on the online clubs they'll facilitate. The interschool, international and even inter-community projects they'll launch... The leadership roles they'll be change agents for and the robust discussions and learning design they'll engineer, that'll determine what is learnt and why.
Thanks Lockdown - regeneration of education's afoot! At least - with the students I'm priviledged to work with.
Part Two: 3 months on...