This is my second year of taking the IMMOOC class. Last year, I enjoyed learning about the concept of flexible instructional design. But it really it was hard for me to take the concept and thinking how to put it into reality. It was more the background of why it is important. The practicality of the “how” was hard for me to wrap my brain around.
This year, reading the book Empower continued to add to the “why” but went deeper into the “how.” This time during IMMOOC focus for me was actually figuring out how to start. This session acknowledged that there are constraints that we have to work within. Just acknowledging that hurdle really helped me conceptualize how I could begin to think about how flexible instruction while incorporating student voice into the social work environment. This book also focuses on the students and the teachers in a different manner than last year. I really felt more connected to concepts and line of thinking. It lends itself to the understanding that there are multiple steps and considerations for this process. There are so very many “take aways” from this session. I have enjoyed learning from the books, blogs, twitter chats and YouTube sessions.
I think that you have to look at yourself as a learner and a teacher. You have to understand what your strengths and areas to grow are. To me this is the first step in the process of looking how to change your classroom. I love that the book validates that you don’t have to change everything you are doing immediately and that there are curricular maps to follow. They focus on identifying a starting point and then expanding little by little. I felt very overwhelmed last year with thinking that I was doing everything wrong. I don’t have a classroom, but this made me think about which group or topic I could make changes within. What topic or group could start to implement more of a student voice while still teaching the direct skills? I need to think of what my comfort level with these changes and start to push myself to think outside of the box while still being in the box.
Another take away for me this session was learning about incorporating student voice and choice within the classroom setting. I think that setting a classroom with a structure that allows for flexibility for students to guide there learning is an amazing concept. I want to emphasize the structure part of this, which is typically viewed as compliance. Structure doesn’t necessarily mean compliance, but structure can mean setting up an environment that allows for; “fail-ING” in an emotionally safe manner, perseverance, and expectations for a variety of learning modes. I feel like I have always looked at failure as a learning moment. However, the authors put it into perspective with the learning process of students. That is important to teach students how to accept that learning failing is OK! Setting up the classroom structures lends itself to building an emotional and physically safe environment for students.
The notion of “fail-ING” is a different way to look at the learning process. Providing an environment that has high levels of structure and expectations should be really important, especially in a classroom where there could be different activities going on at the same time. Students should know the parameters for what is expected in a classroom for different activities. Setting guidelines and expectations for learning and accepting imperfections will help student accept the concepts of “fail-ING” instead thinking they failed at something. Creating a setting where students who enter the classroom with different life experiences and stressors can feel safe, a sense of trust and mutual respect is critical. This will create a level playing field for all students once they enter the learning environment.
Overall, I have enjoyed reading the book Empower. As I move forward with my planning for next year, I definitely will be referencing the book to keep me on track. I look forward to reading the next book, Learner Centered Innovation.
EMPOWER: How can we create flexible instructional design that gives students permission to modify that design? How would that maximize student engagement and thus learning?
This is a more challenging concept for me as I am not a classroom teacher. I have not had to be in the position of trying to implement a flexible instructional design. So I will draw on my impressions and hope to not offend anyone or speak ignorantly about the subject.
I think back to what I have read in my colleagues' blogs and topics that come up recently within our district. Recently, the district has brought up the idea of departmentalizing. Honestly, I don't have an opinion about that. (My concern is the relationship building piece for students and teachers at younger grade levels) When focusing strictly on the notion of a typical classroom setting. I have read blogs that note some have the opportunity to teach only two subjects. It sounds like they have more opportunity for flexible design in their classroom.
I think of how the book discusses the ice cream analogy. It makes me think that if teachers became more departmentalized at the elementary level would that leave room for more flexibility. Would that flexibility to allow students have more engagement and investment in their learning progression? I am not sure if teachers at the junior high school level feel that they have more flexibility with their teaching design since they are content specific. Is this the line of thinking that has brought the administration to provide this as an option for teachers? If teachers do not want to departmentalize, does that make it more challenging to infuse flexible design into their classroom?
I guess I can’t stay away the social and emotional part. If you do departmentalize around third grade, then the kids are switching classes for almost each subject. That then crosses over into the building trust piece for students to feel comfortable with the concept of “fail-ING.”We know that building trust takes time and switching classes for each subject could possibly impede that relationship. The questions posed for this week, honestly leads me to have more questions. I am not sure that I really answered the questions for this week, but again, I am not sure I really can. I look forward to seeing what others have written.