Sunday, January 18, 2015

An Old Dog CAN learn a few new tricks

As I prepared for a new semester, I realized that I'm not as stuck in my ways as I thought.  I just survived my first "Genius Week" here at George-Little Rock.  What is Genius Week?  It's a week where students choose a project that they work on for a week and at the end present their findings to a panel of teachers or community members.  Students worked on original music, original movies (which were posted to YouTube), started their own businesses, invented some really amazing products (a few that I would personally invest in), etc.  It was truly an amazing week of learning and facilitating.  When given a problem (one that they are passionate about), these kids will do amazing things.

I've always said that I hated change, but that's not true.  In the past fifteen years I've survived SMART boards, one-to-one classrooms, Moodle, Google Classroom, and now Genius Week.  Survival implies that these changes were out to destroy me...and upon reflection that is the furthest thing from the truth.  These changes have made me a better teacher - and a better person.  I find myself more flexible than I was twenty years ago.  

Now don't get me wrong - I still stress out if I don't think I'll get through my curriculum, and I hate seeing kids out of the classroom because of meetings, leaving early for athletic events, and generally missing class.  However, Genius week wasn't missing curriculum, it was giving control to the kids.  Something I need to do more often.

I realized that I struggled with facilitating.  I wanted to solve the problem or at least get in my two cents worth.  That was a valuable lesson for me.  Genius Week also made me think of how I could bring some of that energy to my regular course work.  What "problems" could I create in literature, government, or law that these kids could solve?  

Regardless of what people think of the 'old guard,' there are a lot of us well-seasoned teachers willing to look at new innovations in education and embrace them.  We can bring some of that seasoning into new philosophies and provide kids with some wonderful experiences.  

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