Sometimes I title my posts a bit too obscurely. Quick note: the reason why these posts are titled Renaissance Fairness is that I see a Renaissance happening in schools — more teachers are taking control and agency and doing best practices in collaborative work with their peers and students, doing problem and project-based work, and allowing for students to take agency in their learning. And we want the playing field to be as fair as possible –to remove the obstacles that prevent students from understanding conflict and confusion are normal. This brave teaching and learning may look messy to an outsider, and we just need to push through that. If the culture of the world and business is collaborative and cooperative, or at least that is our aim, then creating safe places to hash out conflict and disagreements must be set by the adults in the building or institution first. This is where we foster our students’ love of being confident with their partner projects as well as their independent creative time, and we must honor both.
I promised a quick checklist/reflection guide for teamwork, and here is my first draft link:
This post is dedicated to my crazy teacher friends who try everything they can to help our students, even at the expense of their colleagues’ goodwill. Based on a recent email thread, we’re all trying so hard, but we’re trying too hard alone.
That has to change.
Do you have departmental/content issues? Does the history department turn up their noses at the math teachers or is the elective crew treated like a tertiary annoyance? Supporting our colleagues is more than bringing in a few shoeboxes and glue sticks. It requires deep, drilled-down communication and understanding, and allows for every department to support and connect with one another. Of course, an administration is an integral part of an overall vision: communicating to staff may require multiple messages, reminders, little check-ins of how the vision is progressing once the vision has been shared. It doesn’t mean lockstep. It doesn’t mean one size fits all. It doesn’t mean one ring to rule them all, either. Throw that garbage in the fires of Mordor and carry on, Samwise.
It does mean that departments are talking to one another, and know an overall vision of the school Like other PBL projects before, the Zombie unit was the 8th grade ELA department’s attempt, and we learned a lot. We have some refinement to do, and it was clear based on all of us whose students had more time to dig in, whose students had someone helping with hands-on skills, and whose had lipstick “infection” marks on their faces and played tag (cough).
When everything is important, everything becomes jammed up: think of a school day more like well-run traffic and flow engineering, or flocking science: when kids can move with a flexible, responsive schedule, or when a big PBL project is being conducted, perhaps that is the day when there is a shift in time; better yet, they can go to each class and work and consider through that lens.
(Students are trying to avoid predators, after all–aka going to class.)
It’s going to require some brave teachers and administration to put aside egos and come to solutions that are best for students. We have the skill sets and the drive to do something like what Emily Pilloton does with her girls. We need to include all, however. I am wondering if we have the will.