Things Just Aren’t the Same

http://liz-green.com/2010/12/those-who-cannot-change-their-minds-cannot-change-anything/
http://liz-green.com/2010/12/those-who-cannot-change-their-minds-cannot-change-anything/

If someone who had not been in a school for a while walked into one of our classrooms I think they would be shocked by what they would see.  There have been so many changes on the educational landscape that nothing much remains of the typical classroom so many of us imagine and remember from when we were in school.

I think the first thing you might notice is the lack of desks and collaborative groups of students sitting around tables or working at various places throughout the classroom from the floor to any number of alternative learning spaces. There are a variety of different learning activities going on rather than the entire class focusing on one activity at a time.   Gone are the days when learning was an individual activity and the different subjects such as math, English and Social Studies were taught in isolation.

The next biggest thing I think people would notice would be the teacher not being in front of the room feeding students with the regulated chunks of material they were responsible for learning. In today’s classroom a lot of the learning is done through inquiry and the teacher is more of a facilitator, guiding students toward individual learning goals.

On Friday as I walked around the school I walked in on our grade 3 students during math class. The classroom was noisy and busy and the energy of learning could be felt. The students were working at various stations around the classroom. Some were at the SMART board doing math activities.

Math on the SMART board
Math on the SMART board

Some were playing multiplication war on the carpet and were very engaged in the competitive nature of knowing their math facts faster than their partner.

Multiplication War
Multiplication War

Some were working together at the tables using 3 dimensional shapes trying to figure out how many faces, sides and vertices the various shapes had.

Learning about 3 dimensional shapes.
Learning about 3 dimensional shapes.

The teacher and the educational assistant were moving around the room  helping where necessary and checking in with different students assessing their learning. I could not resist getting  down on the carpet to see what the students were doing.  They were getting good at math facts and were motivating each other to keep going in the spirit of competition.

I couldn’t help but think this was the very reason that children needed to be in school…that attendance is important…that not all things can be duplicated outside of the learning environment the teacher and students have created.

We often have children that are out of school for extended periods of time, sometimes a week, sometimes a month or more. Parents will want teachers to prepare work for those students when they will be away. This is a reasonable request and we certainly appreciate that it is important to parents to try to support their children’s learning.  However, when we were in school working through textbooks and workbooks from page to page preparing work for students might have been easier.  Now that learning is so active, student focused and question based, planning for students absent from the classroom is a much more difficult task. So much happens that depends on the learning environment, created by the teacher, but carried out by the students.

Things going on in classrooms today have changed in many ways. Expectations of learners have changed and teachers have made many adjustments to provide the best learning environment for our inquisitive, digitally confident, 21st century learners.  Different does not mean the way most of us learned was bad or ineffective, but changes are necessary to  meet the needs of today’s learner.

Please come and check out what happens in our classrooms on a daily basis- you are always welcome.  You can check out our grade 3’s on their blog or follow them on twitter @plesdale3 to find out what else they have been up to.

Change…

It seems like I was just dropping my daughter off at university and starting the school year, now she will be home in three weeks with a year of university completed and after Easter break we will only have 2 1/2 months of school left.  When your parents tell you that the older you get, the faster time travels, they are right-listen to them, they know what they are talking about.

  Spring is always a time filled with so many changes and renewed hope.  As the weather gets warmer, it seems like inside the walls of the school things tension can build.  There are many changes happening in educatation in general and anyone who has anything to do with a school would never deny that many of those changes have come hard and fast.  Many of the changes I really appreciate.  I love the new curriculum, project based learning, inquiry, opportunities to use technology, the team spirite within the walls of my school.  Other changes we might not appreciate as much…I will just leave those to your imagination.

  What is it with change anyway?  Why is it that some changes are fast and yet when you are anticipating a much needed or wanted change, it seems to come so slow.  I think the hardest thing for me to learn as an administrator and colleague is to pull back on my passions.  I would like everyone to jump on board and initiate change imediately.  That is not realistic or appreciated in a  lot of cases.  I mentioned in an earlier post about feeling like my staff would throw tomatoes at me if I didn’t sit down and quit talking about technology.  That was my problem, and near demise, wanting to initiate change when the time was not right.  It is a good lesson to learn and one that I have to continue to work on.

  Right now my principal has decided to take on a new position in the school division and leave our school.  I am so excited for her as she anticipates and big changes and the learning curve that it will bring to her.  She will be able to work with young children which is her passion.  Change can be exciting.  On the other hand, with her leaving the school, change is frightening.  We work as a team and even though I know we will all be all right after she leaves, it feels like a big piece of the glue that holds the team together will be leaving the door with her.

Blah, blah, blah and on and on I go.  I guess I could have just written this post in one sentence…

Change is inevitable, it moves at whatever speed it decides to move and so get over it!