During the summer months, I try my best to read and reflect on classroom practices. (Sometimes those thinking sessions can get a little intense.) Years ago, I accepted that no course was ever going to be perfect. I was always going to find things to add, remove, or adjust. I think that’s okay though! I mean, that’s growth.
In the 10 years (happy teacherversary to me!) I’ve held teaching licenses I have...
- Lead 18 different courses.
- Incorporated technology for organization and communication.
- Created emphasis on reflection and revision.
- Adopted 1:1 iPads.
- Adopted an LMS to organize content and promote collaboration.
- Gone from TEACHER to COACH.
- Provided opportunities for students to choose the way they demonstrate learning.
- Centered assessments on standards and mastery vs. points.
...and those are just the highlights. On a more frequent basis, I’m looking for new tools, processes, projects, etc. There’s always more.
We live in a world that’s constantly changing. ...as my grandma would say, I guess I’ve changed things [in my classroom] more frequently than I change my socks. Maybe? That’s a lot of change. Yet, that’s not far off especially when I consider everything that is adjusted daily to match needs and/or suggestions. However, there’s one big change that has hit my radar lately, and that’s how I refer to the room where I spend so much of my time while at work: the classroom.
As another semester started, I asked the question: why do we call it “my classroom?” rather, it’s a space that we share collaboratively with students? And those students aren’t just “my students”, there “the students” or “our students”.
(Tangent -- THEN I tried to determine whether or not "student" was the right word, then I tried on “learner” for a moment. That actually levels the playing field a bit. I’m technically a learner too, right? I’m a teacher, sure, but aren’t the other individuals in the room?)
I get excited thinking about the conversations that occur throughout the semester in OUR space...we’re teaching each other. It’s not my classroom. It’s OUR learning space -- where awesome collaborative experiences happen every day.
I think the learning environment whether physical or virtual has the power to greatly impact every participant’s experience and sense of belonging. (I captured some of this process in Student-Directed Home Pages, too.) If I’m connected to the learners, I’m more invested. If they feel connected to the activities and opportunities, they’re going to be motivated. They’re going to take risks, and ultimately, they’ll take more out of the course.
Can one small change -- changing the way I refer to the learning space -- be the difference for some learners? I hope so. I can’t wait to find out. And, even if the change in terminology only changes ME, I think that’s a good mindset to remember as activities are created. It’s not about MY semester or THEIR semester; it’s about OUR time together.
Once I get acquainted with the new lingo, I’ll let you know how it works. Old habits die hard, but I hope that the learners I have the opportunity to collaborate with this semester can help embrace this (yep, you guessed it) change. I hope it's another great thing to add to my ever-growing lists of things that have positively influenced my process.