Taking It Public

Sometimes my team and I get crazy ideas. Like having 120 students share their 120 personalized Units of Inquiry, 8 different ways, 3 days after the winter holiday.

It always seems like a great at the time. We hold hands, jump in with both feet, happily submerge into new waters… then we pop back up to the surface, catch our breath and look around.

What is first excitement, soon becomes panic.

“What were we thinking!?”

“What have we done!?”

“How do we get out of this!?”

Then the realization hits us. The fact that we are constantly asking our students to:

– think big

– take risks

– leave their comfort zone

– do something that scares them

– embrace failure

So in order to avoid being the world’s biggest hypocrites, we commit to our crazy idea, get all hands on deck and continue full steam ahead.

Here is the story of how we muddled through our first attempt at supporting students to “Take Their Learning Public”

As always, the idea came from a long and heated chat. This time, about how to wrap up the students’ first personalized Units of Inquiry. We all agreed, there needed to be some way in which they shared their learning with parents and the school community, but we wanted to ensure it was as authentic and student-driven as possible. So we settled on the idea of having all students “take it public” but in a way that made sense for what their unit was.

As a team, we brainstormed all the possible ways student could take their learning public, and because we’re crazy, we thought… “Why not have them all happening on the same day!?”

And because we’re even crazier, we figured “Why not the Friday after they return from winter holiday”.

So then we introduced the idea to students, as usual starting with the “why”. We talked about how regardless of what someone is working on, learning about, or pursuing, there typically comes a point where that person takes their journey public. It may be when a fashion designer puts on a show. Or when a scientist publishes their findings. Or perhaps when an inventor showcases a prototype at a trade show. Or even when a musician performs a new song.

So since they’ve been working on pursuing a purpose for the past 6 weeks, it was time for them to take their learning public and share it with others.

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.18.00 am

Then we shared our plan for “how” we were going to help students to make this happen.

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.18.10 am

We shared our plan for support.

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.18.17 am

We shared our plan for time.

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.18.25 am

Then we shared our thinking about “what” ways they could take their learning public. For each option, we shared stories and photos from previous years to help students understand and visualize what that might look like for them – hopefully helping them more of an informed choice when it came time to commit to one of the options.

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.18.37 amscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.18.50 amscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.19.07 amscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.19.18 amscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.19.28 amscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.19.38 amscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.19.49 amscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.20.00 amscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.20.08 am

Then we had all student complete a Google Form to give us the data we needed to plan our support for them.

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.21.34 amscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.21.43 am

We analyzed the data in order to make decisions about groups and adult allocations. We looked for styles of taking it public that could be grouped together (like Ted Talks and live performances; gallery and showcase) and we also took into consideration our individual strengths and preferences for which group we felt we could best support.

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.27.09 am

Then we shared this information with students…

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.17.34 am

and had our first meetings with our “TIP” groups where we able to get to know the students (since they were made of mixed groupings) and begin to co-construct a vision for what success would look like.

img_5637img_5632img_5634img_5629img_5630

These “Take it Public” (or “TIP” as it came to be known) groups would continue to meet at the beginning of each day, so the adult responsible for the group could support the students to create to-do lists and day plans in order to prepare and meet again at the end of each day to support students in reflecting on progress, challenges and next steps. Many advisors also set up TIP Google Classrooms to help with the logistics, organization and communication.

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.22.06 am

At this point, we also knew it was important to communicate with parents to let them know the “why, how, and whats” of Taking It Public, so they could make arrangement to hopefully come in and be part of it. We decided to be completely transparent with the parent community, and position ourselves as risk-takers, hence the name “A Friday of Firsts” – both for students and ourselves.

12

Then, the next few days were full of:

Researching…

Building…

Rehearsing…

Designing…

Practicing…

Preparing…

Memorizing…

Organizing…

and lots and LOTS of conferencing!

img_6371

Many of us used a variety of approaches to track the students’ progress and find out what support they wanted from us. This helped us stay involved with what they needed and the amount and level of support that made sense for them.

Some of us collected this data with small check-in Google Forms at the end of each day:

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.22.43 amscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.22.53 am

Screen Shot 2019-01-12 at 10.41.06 AM.png

Others took anecdotal notes, or had one-on-one, regular check-ins with the members of their group.

Regardless of how we collected this data, we all made sure to use it in order to inform our planning for the following day.

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.23.31 am

We also paid attention to planning the logistics for the actual day. Taking into consideration what is happening when, who is involved, who is supervising whom and who is available to come an observe/participate.

Screen Shot 2019-01-12 at 12.07.53 PM.png

The morning of the event, students did their final touches and preparations…

And then…. ready, set, GO!

Ted Talks

Live Performancesscreen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.50.56 am

A Marketplace

A showcase 

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.49.34 am

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.51.04 am

A gallery

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.50.45 am

A catered “Food Friday”

Workshops for younger students

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 10.47.44 am

And read alouds

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 12.03.45 pm

Photo credits: @puglifevn @juouelle @hktans @ms_amandaromano 

Reflections:

  • All in all it was a successful day – there was a palpable energy amongst students, advisors and the parent community, as well as feelings of pride, success and accomplishment
  • There were a few difficult conversations between parents and students, but we welcome and encourage that as part of the learning process from students first attempt planning and directing their own Unit of Inquiry – it’s all about failing forward and learning from mistakes 
  • As a team, we were glad we took the plunge and tried something new and scary – we left our comfort zone, and magic really did happen!
  • It was SO great to work with a mixed group of students and continue to build relationships with students across the grade level
  • It was surprising how smooth the transition was from winter holiday, right back into TIP preparations – we were shocked and provoked at the idea not necessarily needing to wrap up one thing before a break, and the unexpected benefits of having something familiar to jump right back into

 Future Thoughts:

  • next time it would be great for us to acknowledge the students that “took it public” on their own accord at some point throughout their unit, as we had a few students point out that they had already hosted a workshop, catered an event, participated in a market at a more authentic time in their journey. Maybe this teacher-led “take it public” does not need to be for everyone, but could be more for those students who missed this part of the process on their own
  • it would be great if we could figure out how to break this “taking it public” out of school-land, beyond parents and students, and support students to share their learning and accomplishments with the wider community

 

How do you support your students to have ownership over taking their learning public?

How do you model and experience taking risks and facing failures alongside your students?

Advertisements

Agency Self-Reflection Tool

Recently, I’ve been trying my hand at leading workshops to help educators along their journey to respect and support student agency. One element of my workshop is providing educators with self reflection tools to help them identify parts of their practice that are already agency-supportive and also to illuminate areas in their practice where there is space for more student agency.

Here is a questionnaire I created with that purpose in mind:

(Click here for a printable copy)

Agency Self-Reflection Tool

Without judgement, honestly and critically reflect on the following questions.

Beginning of the Year

1. How involved were your students in setting up their learning space? (desks, shelves, bulletin boards, classroom libraries, manipulatives, resources etc.)

  • Not at all
  • Slightly involved
  • Very involved
  • Students had full ownership

2.How involved were your students in establishing class systems and routines at the beginning of the year? (attention getters, tidy-up routines, etc.)

  • Not at all
  • Slightly involved
  • Very involved
  • Students had full ownership

3. How involved were your students in establishing their rights and responsibilities (or essential agreements?)

  • Not at all
  • Slightly involved
  • Very involved
  • Students had full ownership

Day to Day Voice and Choice

4. How much voice and choice do your students have in where they learn? (desk, floor, cushion, hallway, library etc.)

  • None
  • Some
  • A lot
  • Full control

5. How much voice and choice do your students have in who they learn with? (partners, groups, etc.)

  • None
  • Some
  • A lot
  • Full control

6. How much voice and choice do your students have in how they learn? (lesson, video, reading, listening, experimenting, peer-to-peer, play etc.)

  • None
  • Some
  • A lot
  • Full control

7. How much voice and choice do your students have in when they learn? (Which day, which period, for how long, how often etc.)

  • None
  • Some
  • A lot
  • Full control

8. How much voice and choice do your students have in what they learn? (content, skills, concepts, topics, etc.)

  • None
  • Some
  • A lot
  • Full control

Planning, Assessing and Reporting Their Learning

9. How involved are your students in planning their units?

  • Not at all
  • Somewhat
  • Very
  • Complete ownership of this process

10. How involved are your students in choosing, gathering and sharing the resources they use to learn? (videos, books, podcasts, manipulatives, experts etc.)

  • Not at all
  • Somewhat
  • Very
  • Complete ownership of this process

11. How involved are your students in choosing how they organize their learning? (notebooks, Google Docs, Evernote ,Google Slides, notes, diagrams, sketches etc.)

  • Not at all
  • Somewhat
  • Very
  • Complete ownership of this process

12. How involved are your students in choosing how they share their learning? (presentation, story, podcast, blog, video, vlog, etc.)

  • Not at all
  • Somewhat
  • Very
  • Complete ownership of this process

13. How involved are your students in assessing their own learning? (pre-assessment, diagnostic, formative, summative etc.)

  • Not at all
  • Somewhat
  • Very
  • Complete ownership of this process

14. How involved are your students in the process of feedback (when, from whom, about what, how often etc.)

  • Not at all
  • Somewhat
  • Very
  • Complete ownership of this process

15. How involved are your students in evaluating their learning? (grades, spectrums, letters, numbers, etc.)

  • Not at all
  • Somewhat
  • Very
  • Complete ownership of this process

16. How involved are your students in formally reporting their learning? (report cards, evaluations of learning, progress reports etc.)

  • Not at all
  • Somewhat
  • Very
  • Complete ownership of this process

17. How involved are your students in conferences involving parents

  • Not at all
  • Somewhat
  • Very
  • Complete ownership of this process

Other:

18. How comfortable would your students be to disagree with you?

  • Not at all
  • Somewhat
  • Very
  • Completely comfortable

19. How comfortable would your students be to make changes to the physical learning space?

  • They would not think they could make changes
  • They would ask permission to make a change
  • They would notify me they were going to make a change
  • They would just make the change

20. When your students need to take care of physical needs (going to the bathroom, eating, drinking, visiting the clinic etc.) they are most likely to:

  • Not do anything, the know they are not allowed during my class
  • Ask permission (May I please go to…)
  • Notify you (I am going to…)
  • Just do it

21. How often do you ask your students for their feedback (about you, your teaching, how they feel in your class, suggestions for improvement etc.)

  • Never
  • Once year
  • A few times a year
  • Regularly

 


 

Obviously, this questionnaire reflects my thoughts, opinions and beliefs about student agency – but with that also comes my biases, blind spots and misconceptions too. And posts like this demonstrate how much stronger we are when we share ideas, challenge each other and push one another’s thinking forward.

So, I’d like to know what you think…

What would you add, change or remove?

What’s missing, that’s essential to empowering students to be in the driver’s seat?

What’s included that’s redundant, misleading or unnecessary?

How could I make it more inclusive for all educators, regardless of the age or subject they teach and the system they work in?

How could I adapt it for leaders to reflect on how they respect and support the agency of the teachers they work with?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

Venturing out of my comfort zone

This is an image I show my students on a daily basis. I am constantly urging, nudging and pushing them to step out of their comfort zone.

“Take risks”

“Leap in”

“Do something that scares you”

“Push yourself”

“Challenge yourself”

“Put yourself in a position where you will grow”

Such easy advice to give

Much harder advice to take when you find yourself faced with a situation where you have to make a decision about stepping out of your own comfort zone.

My comfort zone is Studio 5.

I love Studio 5. I am happy there. I love the students. I love my team. I love our days – shoes off, music blasting, always some sort of silliness and shenanigans afoot.

I am comfortable in Studio 5. I understand our vision, our mission, our challenges, our opportunities, our roadblocks. I know our history, our failures, our many iterations.

I know what I’m doing in Studio 5. Not to say that I’m doing it right, but I’ve grown confident supporting students to choose, act and reflect. I’ve learned how to help students write their own reports. I’ve figured out ways to guide students to tune into their motivation and uncover their passions and purpose.

So making the decision to leave Studio 5 has been a very difficult one.

But if I’ve been telling my students that stepping out of their comfort zone is where the magic happens, then I would be a hypocrite to not heed my own advice.

So… I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. Into a new position. At a new school. In a new country. On a new continent. To have a chance to impact change on a whole school level. To support an AMAZING staff of learners, critical thinkers and risk-takers. To grow myself as a leader.

Trusting, as the image promises, to find where the magic happens. A promise I’ve sold to my students over and over again.

Easy to sell to them.

Much, scarier when it’s about me.

So although I am sad to leave my lovely, comfortable Studio 5 family, I’m excited about what’s around the corner next year and the magic I hope to find in my next adventure.

Wish me luck!

The Magic of a Student Designed Studio

We have 120 Grade 5 students.

We have 10 learning spaces in our Grade 5 hallway.

And to start the year we believed that those 120 students should have the trust and ownership to collectively design and set-up those 10 learning spaces.

So they did. And it was pretty amazing.

Before Day 1

As usual, our team started with why. With the help of our PYPC and instructional coaches, we talked as a team to ensure we were all on the same page about why having students set-up their learning spaces was essential to starting a year full of respect and support for their agency. From there we were able to move onto possible hows and whats , but we knew that most of the planning would be in response to what actually happened each day, so we started small, with one first step – “unsetting up” the space.

img_3697-1

We knew that in order for students to be able to truly own the space, we would need to provide them with a blank canvas – essentially undoing any thinking, decisions or organization from us. We also knew it was important that students could easily see and access all the furniture, resources and materials that we had as a grade level, so we decided to collate it all into separate areas. We put all the tables in one area, all the couches in another area, all the shelves in another area, all the baskets/bins/organizers in another area, all the consumable materials in another area and all the learning resources and manipulative in another area. We also ensured every wall, shelf, cupboard, and bin was completely empty.

img_3640-1

We also knew that is was essential to keep parents informed and involved. So we sent them this email a few days before their child’s first day of school:

img_3816

Day 1

On day 1, we pretty much just said “Go! Set-up your studios!”. We wanted to prevent too much guidance and ensure our thinking wasn’t accidentally seeping into their thinking. We also wanted to use this as a cold diagnostic – to see who they are and what they currently think and understand about learning and school. Since there were lots of big, heavy pieces of furniture we did have a safety briefing to talk about how to lift and carry furniture and how to ask for help when needed.

Then they were off…

And it was incredible to see the action, initiative, thinking and teamwork right out of the gate!

b68b09fb-a9a5-4d94-9614-b51f1eabf83e-1

 Immediately we started to see creativity and great ideas:

A table for adults to drop of forgotten lunches….

An indoor handball court…

A welcome sign…

We also started to see different types of learning spaces emerge:

And by the end of day 1, students had successfully set-up 7…. classrooms.

Day 2

Although students did an AMAZING job with their first attempt of setting-up, it was clear that many of them were still in the mindset of “doing school” – a paradigm we knew we wanted to challenge immediately. So in small advisory groups we all facilitated a guided brainstorm activity to get them thinking about the concept of a studio.

img_3667-1img_3669-1

Once we helped students organize and unpack their own thinking about the concept of a studio, we asked them a challenging question.

“Yesterday we told you to go set-up your studios. Looking at the people, places, materials, and purposes from your brainstorms this morning…. did you actually set-up ‘studios’?” – Us

“No….” – Them

“Yesterday, what did you set-up?” – Us

“Classrooms” – Them

“Do you guys want some more time to try again?” – Us

“YAASSSSSS!!!!!” – Them

So they tried again. And it was just as – if not more – amazing! We started to see spaces emerge that would support authentic and purposeful pursuits and endeavours.

img_3709img_3710img_3711img_3712

But we noticed students weren’t really considering the purpose-built spaces. We have two small rooms with doors, one large room with doors, 4 medium rooms with 3 and 3/4 walls and two large open spaces. Yet students weren’t matching the purpose of the space to the unique features of the space. So we broke into small advisory groups again to push their thinking further. We analyzed the features of each space and debated what type of studio would be most appropriate in that space. Obviously there was no clear right or wrong answer, so we ended up with several, equally good options.

Day 3

We took the most popular options that arose from discussions within advisory groups and synthesized them into 3 main floor plans. Then students and advisors analyzed the floor plans and cast their vote.

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 2.57.43 PM

It was clear that “option B” had the majority of votes, so that is what we went with.

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 2.58.27 PM.png

Next, we had students commit to a team that they felt motivated to help with.

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 2.57.54 PM.png

Then we let them go again to bring “option B” to life in their new teams.

We started to see the space take shape, but noticed they were focused mostly on the big things and not yet thinking about the smaller details. So we pulled them together and provoked their thinking further with these 6 questions.

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 2.58.05 PM.png

Then we really started to see the spaces take shape.

We saw more thinking and action connected to organization…

We saw more attention to aesthetics…

We started to see signs and instructions…

We saw more thought into what was needed in each space and how to get it…

Day 4

Since all the spaces will be used be all 130 of us, it was important that the teams responsible for each space were considering and using the ideas and opinions of people who were not on their team. So we gave students the opportunity to “tour” each space and then leave feedback for the group responsible for designing that specific studio.

Then teams had time to analyze the feedback and decided how they were going to take action to honour the ideas and concerns of their peers.

Day 5

At this point spaces were starting to shape up, but we noticed that most students (with an exception of a few) weren’t looking beyond what they already had in their space. So we poked their thinking further into what else they might need, where they could get it and, of course, how we as adults could support them in that process.

Screen Shot 2018-08-25 at 9.58.46 AM.png

Day 6,7,8

At this point in the process, we noticed a plateau. It seems that students took themselves as far as they could and weren’t sure where to go next. So that was a big clue for us, that it was time to jump in and help them go beyond where they could take themselves. So we had one adult join each of the teams and act as a coach. Each person had their own style of how they supported their group, but we all shared the common theme of helping support students’ thinking and organization towards their next steps.

We noticed that this support helped students go further and begin to think about the smaller details within their space.

Even MORE cool ideas began to emerge!

Day 9

Then, finally, the spaces were “done” (knowing that there is always opportunities for reflections, refinements, new ideas and changes throughout the year!)

We ended up with a book nook…

An art and design studio…

A recording studio…

A science and maths lab…

A town hall space…

A drama studio…

A fitness studio…

A digital production studio…

And a “chillax” studio…

At this point it was important to take time to pause and reflect in order to look for learning. We challenged the students to think about the last 9 days and notice and name the attributes of the IB Learner Profile, PYP attitudes, ATL skills, strands of math and stands of language that have been embedded within their experience designing and setting-up their learning spaces – even if they didn’t realize it at the time.

We then displayed their reflections for the community – to help parents, other grade-levels and visitors to our school understand where the learning has been during the first two weeks of the year.

Day 10

Now that the studios were fully set-up it was time for all of us to explore and use the amazing spaces!

It was also time to show and share the spaces with their families. So during Back to School Night, students gave their families a tour of all the learning spaces in our hallway. We invited parents to leave their feedback so we could include their voice in the process.

Here is what they had to say:

Reflections

  • It was such an enjoyable first few weeks of school
  • It provided great diagnostic data about our students’ thinking, initiative, teamwork, problem solving and creativity
  • It established a really strong sense of community
  • It set the tone for a culture of initiative, not a culture of permission
  • It helped students understand the spaces, resources and materials they have available to them this year
  • It challenged us all to break down our “homeroom” mentality
  • It showed students we are serious about respecting and supporting their agency as learners and as a people

I feel extremely lucky to be part of a team of fellow risk-takers who were all on board to jump in with both feet. I also feel extremely lucky to be at a school with a parent community who trusted us and tried their best to understand our approach and how they could be part of it. I also also feel extremely fortunate to be at a school where our leadership, admin and even Head of School not only understood what we were trying to do, but supported us and even publically shared and celebrated our approach.

Screen Shot 2018-08-25 at 9.06.12 AM.png

If you want to involve your students in setting up their learning spaces, but happen to be at a school where your team, leadership, admin and/or Head of School are not on board (yet), take comfort in the fact that the Enhanced PYP has your back!

Screen Shot 2018-08-25 at 11.54.48 AM

How do you involve your students in setting up their learning spaces?

“Trust Your Students”

I have not been my best self this past week.

We have the staging of PYPx coming up and as a result, all of our time and energy has been spent supporting students to plan for and create a symbolic piece that represents their journey as a learner and stimulate conversation with whomever shall visit their display. (more on that later)

I’ve been overwhelmed, wrapped up, anxious and frazzled.

And it must have been showing because today a student came up and asked me…

“Miss Taryn are you in a bad mood?”

So, I had to answer honestly…

“Yeah, you know what – I am. I feel anxious and stressed and concerned.”

So she kindly followed up with…

“Why?”

And so I shared my worries…

“I’m worried that my students aren’t putting in enough time and effort to get ready for the staging of PYPx. I’m worried that their parents and the community are going to be disappointed in what they produce. I’m worried that they won’t reach their level of success by May 22. I’m worried they aren’t using their time management, planning or organizational skills to their full extent. I’m worried they might not be holding themselves to a high enough standard…”

And her response was so clear. So kind. So simple. So true…

“Miss Taryn, you have to trust your students.”

Trust my students…

She was right. That was the piece of the puzzle I had been missing. I had been guiding, encouraging, advising, helping… but not trusting.

I had gotten so caught up in worrying about how everything was going to look and be perceived by others, that I had lost sight of the big picture. That even though this was the destination of their PYP journey, it’s still about the journey as they prepare for this destination. It’s about the process, not the product. About the thinking, not the doing. About them owning their own learning, planning their own time, making their own decisions, seeking help, choosing to gather feedback, and wanting to take it to the next level. For themselves.

Not for me. Not for their parents.

For themselves.

It doesn’t have to be perfect… it just has to be them. True, authentic, genuine them.

And in order for it to be truly, authentically, genuinely them… I need to give them time and space (like I have all year) to make mistakes, fail, run out of time, learn, reflect and, inevitably, grow.

And most importantly, in the words of Thao Nhu, I need to trust my students.

So trust, I will.

Agency PD – A First Attempt

A few weeks ago I shared my thinking about how best to structure professional development focused around student agency, and this past weekend I had a chance to test it out! I spent the day with an amazing group of passionate and dedicated educators all committed to upping the amount of voice, choice and ownership in the work they do to support their learners in their specific role.

Here is how it went…

The Before:

The first thing I knew I needed to do was get to know them as learners. So I sent out a quick Google Form that helped me begin to understand who they are and what they are hoping for from our time together.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.44.47 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.45.09 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.45.18 PM

The results were very informative and helped me put together a day of professional learning about agency tailored to their needs.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.46.04 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.46.21 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.46.33 PM

From there I focused on building a workshop where they were able to not only learn about learner agency, but learn through experiencing their own agency as learners. All of my planning and decisions were guided by the question, “How can I help them learn about student agency” instead of focusing on “How can I teach them about student agency”.

Before the day of the workshop I also spent some time putting together a virtual learning space, our own Google Classroom, to help distribute documents and resources.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.50.57 PM.png

I knew that not all participants were comfortable on Google Classroom, so I insured that there were plenty of other options and avenues for accessing resources and using some of the templates.

For example, sending out links via email:

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.54.49 PM

And having shorty links visible when they arrived the day of the workshop:

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.56.05 PM.png

The During:

When participants arrived the day of, I made sure they all had access to the presentation slides – which were editable – as there were a few activities where everyone would need to contribute thoughts and ideas.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.57.52 PM.png

First we started with a simple activity to help them connect with each other, the topic of the workshop and their own experience as a student.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.59.11 PM.png

Then I was transparent about the structure of the workshop – Choose, Act, Reflect – and my thinking behind it.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.59.46 PM.png

The “Choose” Portion of the day…

To help them self-assess where they are in their own journey of understanding and supporting student agency, I used a Gradual Increase of Independence (adapted from the original design by @orenjibuta)

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.01.03 PM.png

Next I guided them in using the data from their own self-assessment to create their own personalized success criteria for the day

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.03.09 PM.png

Then, we co-constructed a menu about documenting learning – starting with the “why”, and moving to possible “hows” and “whats”

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.03.58 PM.png

Everyone took a turn to share how they were planning to document their learning throughout the day, and it was so great to see so many different approaches!

After that, it was time for them to plan their day! I took some time to give them an overview of all the different possible options that could support their learning throughout the day.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.05.25 PM.png

I briefly explained what my optional workshops were about and how the conferences would work:

Who the Skype experts were:

I helped them centralize the things they might want to discuss with one another:

I previewed the resource document that I built for them.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.09.25 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.09.33 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.09.41 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.09.48 PM

And then… they were off planning!!! (using their success criteria and self-assessment to inform the choices they made about their learning)

The “Act” Portion of the day…

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.11.37 PM.png

Optional Workshops:

1. The “Why” Behind Student Agency

First we started with an opportunity for them to tune into their own understanding of what they think student agency is.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.13.18 PM.png

Next we moved into a “Tug of War” to help them debate and discuss a variety of underlying beliefs, assumptions and philosophies connected to agency.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.15.12 PM.png

Finally, we did Chalk Talk to help them engage with some provocative stimuli to poke and provoke their thinking and emotions further. (Warning – some stimuli are quite extreme!)

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.18.17 PM.png

2. Transferring Decision into the Hands of Learners

First, I had everyone brainstorm all the decisions they make in their role as an educator

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.19.07 PM.png

Then, I had them use a quote from the Empower book to challenge them to think about which of those decisions learners “should” or “could” be making themselves.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.19.12 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.19.17 PM

Then I invited them to visit other groups and leave some feedback to push each other’s thinking a little further.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.19.24 PM.png

Finally, I had them reflect on any shifts in their thinking as a result of the activity.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.19.30 PM.png

3. Self-Reflection and Planning for Action

First I introduced a few self-reflection tools, to help them see where they are already respecting and supporting student agency and also where there might be some space to make some changes in their practice to work towards even more respect and support for student agency.

I used a sketchnote from @terSonya

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.23.36 PM.png

and a questionnaire that I developed

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.24.24 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.24.32 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.24.39 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.24.46 PM

Once they had some time to engage with the tools, I supported them in using their self-reflection to develop a personal action plan

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.26.11 PM

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 2.07.23 PM.png

Optional Guided Groups or Conferences:

I only had one conference slot filled about agency vs. the curriculum. We sat and chatted for 15 minutes about questions, challenges, ideas and resources.

Skypes with experts:

I was so fortunate to have 4 amazing educators donate some of their weekend to support the learning of people in the workshop.

@bondclegg chatted with MYP and DP educators about how to up the agency within and around program restrictions

@hktans chatted with leaders and administrators about how to support the development of teachers when it comes to understanding agency and also how to bend and break rules in order to re-imagine what school could be

@ms_AmandaRomano shared her own personal journey as an experienced educator unlearning, learning and relearning how to support student agency as a classroom teacher

Stephen Flett chatted with educators about how learning support can function within a system that supports more student agency

Collaborative Conversations:

There was LOTS of connecting, chatting, dialoguing, brainstorming and challenging

Independant Inquiry:

There was also lots of personal inquiry into the resource document

The “Reflect” Portion of the day…

When we all came back together at the end of the day, I guided them through a formative self-assessment where they were able to choose how best to assess their personalized success criteria to know where they currently are and where they need to go next

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.35.24 PM.png

Then we spent some time collectively brainstorming the “why”, “how” and “what” of reflection

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.37.01 PM.png

and everyone chose the style and content of reflection that was most useful and comfortable for them. It was great to see such a wide range of approaches to reflection! Everything from painting, writing, sketching, talking, sleeping… to even graphing!

Then we spent a few minutes talking about how the learning doesn’t have to end…

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.39.06 PM

How fears are normal…

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.39.20 PM.png

And how leaving your comfort zone often leads to something amazing!

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.39.26 PM.png

Finally, before they left, I asked if they could share their honest feedback with me about the day. I wanted to make sure I was honouring their voice as learners!

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.39.33 PM.png

The After:

When I got home, I read through the feedback:

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.44.12 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.44.25 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.44.33 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.44.41 PM

Reading through their feedback was so helpful. It helped me reflect on what parts of the workshop worked really well, and also some parts of the workshop I need to revise for next time.

As I was reading through the “wishes” I noticed that there were many people who felt that two things were missing from the workshop:

At first I started to go down the path of regret and all the shulda, coulda, wouldas…. but then I realized that  just because the workshop was over, didn’t mean that my support for their learning had to end! So I decided to take action and respond to what their feedback was telling me.

I made two Google Slide presentations (linked above) – one to address each area that seemed to be missing from the workshop. And I sent those presentations to the workshop participants via our Google Classroom and email.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.50.26 PM

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.49.57 PM

Now I can feel a little bit better that I honoured their voice as learners, and took action to respond to their needs… even if it was technically “after the workshop”.

My reflections….

  • overall, it was a really great day
  • learning through agency is essential in order to understand agency
  • empowering educators to understand themselves as learners and where they are on their own journey helps the learning extend beyond the hours of a workshop
  • investing time in the “before” and “after” really helped me honour their voice as learners
  • this structure created a really relaxed, comfortable vibe for the day
  • the medium IS the message

How do you support educators in developing their understanding of student agency?

What feedback do you have for me as a workshop planner/facilitator in order to better meet the needs of my learners?

APPENDIX (added to the original post)

The Monday after this workshop I received the following email from one of the participants:

workshop action for twitter

workshop action photo

What a great feeling to see that learning from the workshop lead to action that resulted in happy, successful teachers and students!!!

Read like a rebel

Last weekend at an IB conference in Singapore, I shared my personal journey from being a robot (a compliant student/teacher) to becoming a rebel (a thinker/questioner/challenger).

And a huge part of that journey for me was what I read. So often as educators we read amazing books… but they are usually books that help us do a better job within the system. Books about doing school well, or doing school better, or some even about doing school differently… but often just a little differently.

For me, the biggest shifts in thinking that I had came from books outside the system. From de-schoolers, un-schoolers, home-schoolers and even anti-schoolers. Books that made me critically look at the nature of the institution of school and begin to question some of the things we often assume to be “natural” or “essential” or “untouchable” elements of the education system.

So here are some of the things I read that helped poke and provoke my thinking about teaching, learning, schooling and the rights of the child:

It can be books…

Turning Points

How Children Learn

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Summerhill

Dumbing us Down

De-Schooling Society

It can be blogs:

Alfie Kohn blog

It can be Tweeters:

Bruce L Smith

It’s any reading material that gets you thinking, makes you question, gets you angry. The type of reading material that fires you up and gives you the confidence to look at school and say “that’s not okay”. The type of reading material that doesn’t shy away from challenging those “untouchable” elements of the school system.

The type of reading material that makes you feel unafraid to fail, be different or get in trouble.

What are your favourite “rebel reads” that I should add to the list?