What if we believed that everything that we had to make great schools was already within our organization, and we just needed to develop and share it? (Couros 117).
This is the first What If, in George Couro’s list in the Innovator’s Mindset and is the one that keeps me up at night, because believing this is true and actually moving to action are two very different things.
Primarily, I think that a completely under-utilized resource; that which could move our schools from good to great and which can easily begin tomorrow is the inclusion of student voice. And I’m not talking about exit surveys or the occasional opportunity for students to contribute to the school community in clubs or assemblies. I’m talking about providing students with opportunities for autonomy and self-direction; to provide them with leadership in their learning.
What if…Student voice meant that students co-learned with teachers?
What if this was embedded in professional learning? Christy Cate, a member of our Innovator’s Mindset Voxer group shared how kids got involved in a professional learning opportunity completely by accident, but because it was such a powerful learning experience they repeated it the following year. In my own District, we’ve seen a school organize a Student Ed Tech Day in which each class in the school came down and learned from students in grades 3-8.
We have also made a point of including student ignites at our Ed Tech Event and Ed Camp. The teachers are often amazed by the passion, poise, and depth of the student presentations. In the case of our EdCamp, one of our students, Aidan Aird even led a learning session about incorporating STEM.
And just yesterday, the 21C team in my District hosted a Student Ed Tech day in which students and teachers learned and planned together for an entire day, with the opportunity to continue conversations via a virtual class. Students from the neighbouring high school came and led student teams, but also helped to plan and facilitate some of the sessions. Everywhere you turned, students and teachers were learning from each other. It was incredibly powerful and inspiring!
What if including students in professional learning was the norm, not the exception? If we know that such experiences can be so powerful, what is stopping us from doing this tomorrow?
What if…Student voice also meant
that students could take the curriculum expectations, direct the way in which they learned those expectations, and “grade” their own abilities with the constant feedback of their teacher? This weekend I spoke to Jonathan So about how grade 6 students in his class are doing just that as he explained how his class has gone gradeless.
We know that grades shut down learning? We have the means to change this?
Why don’t we?
As George Couros suggests, “In a place where every learner is encouraged to reach his or her dreams, these “what ifs” can become reality.” What are we afraid of?
As always, I love reading the other posts in our blog hop! Add your What Ifs to the comments, on Twitter, or submit your own blog post or read others on the OSSEMOOC site. We’ve got 16 of them so far! Check a few of them out below.