Timetables – The Enemy of Creativity

I’m writing this while sitting next to two students who are editing a short film. One just turned to the other, and in an expression of pure joy, exclaimed, “OMG! I literally have goosebumps right now!”, in reference to her creation. More on this later…

Currently, the vast majority of my students are engaged in creative endeavours. My MYP Media students are finalizing short films to share with their peers, enter in film festivals and use as provocations for filmmaking workshops. My MYP Language and Literature students are crafting short stories – many of which students hope they can submit for publication. Even my DP Language and Literature students are engaging in a written task assessment – which, if you know DP Lang and Lit, is about as creative they are “allowed” to be over the duration of the two year course (kidding…sort of).

Perhaps the convergence of all of this creative energy is making this issue more apparent, but right now, my students are definitely victims of a timetabling system that is an antiquated practice and certainly an enemy of creativity and deep learning.

Would a real filmmaker, preparing her work for submission to her production company say to herself, “Ok…today I will work on my film from 9:00-10:30, but then at 10:30 I have to stop because then it’s time to do some math”? For that matter, would a real mathematician say, “I’m going to gather insights into this data, but only for ninety minutes because then I have to go edit a film”?

Of course not.

This  is the inauthentic world of timetabled learning that we have created in schools. A world where creativity – a slow process in any discipline – is cut short because…because a piece of paper you got on the first day of school says it has to.

So when children are trying to write a story that they have invested themselves in emotionally, or are completing a film that they are planning to show to a wide audience of peers and community members, they are forced to do so in these arbitrary, predetermined chunks of time – whether they want to or not, whether they feel like it or not. Have a great idea during a time not designated for that type of thinking? Too bad, you have a schedule to keep.

This type of traditional school-driven timetabling is as old as schools itself and is designed for logistical ease – not for student learning.

IMG_4376.jpg

Quick – be creative! But only for the next 90 minutes… 

What are the side effects of school-driven timetabling when students are involved in deep learning? On one hand, it forces children into the ridiculous need to shift their ability to be analytical, be creative, be physically active, at the snap of a finger. It perpetuates a, “good enough” attitude from students who end up creating not what they really wanted to, but a reasonable facsimile that satisfies the requirements of the time constraints that have been determined for them. It doesn’t allow for slow thinking of any kind – reflection, adjustment, seeking feedback and fine tuning – that all creators would say are integral aspects of high-quality products.

The good news about timetables? We’ve created them, so we can destroy them. We can leverage technology to offload the need for a lot of traditional “lessons”, which would free up time for teachers to move more towards the role of consultant, mentor and coach. We can create environments like this one, or this one where students create their own timetables based on need and interest, not based on arbitrary decisions from the timetabling robot that spits out a schedule for them.

What would the side effects of a student-driven timetable be? First of all, learning how to manage time. We often lament that time-management is a skill that is lacking in many students – of course it is, we manage the majority of their time on their behalf. Turning the timetable over to the students would allow them to take ownership over this process and free up teachers to support students with strategies on how to manage their short and long-term goals. Secondly, a student-driven timetable would support students in learning the key skill of prioritization. There are literally endless books and blogs dedicated to the art of prioritizing and managing one’s daily list of “to-do’s”; perhaps this wouldn’t be such a common stressor if we learned and used these skills as we were growing up. A student-driven timetable would give children the space and freedom to go deep, to truly sink their teeth into their learning, to “get it”, to have those moments of wonder and accomplishment and to learn that, often, the things we are the most proud of are the things that we really put our heart and soul into – often for more than 60-90 minutes two to three times a week. Finally and most importantly, a student-driven timetable says to children, “you matter”. It says, “you are able to be the driver of your own learning”. It says “your time belongs to you”. Empowering students to manage their time and projects is a kinder, more humane, more authentic approach to learning and creating – one that we should be advocating for on behalf of our learners.

IMG_4381.JPG

If they had the choice, they’d be at this all day. Shouldn’t they have that choice? 

This brings me back to where I started…the two students I mentioned at the beginning of this post? They are still sitting beside me, completely in flow and completely content. One  just said to another, “Wow, we’ve been here for hours…it’s nearly six o’clock”. They want to keep going, but they have to go home to eat dinner. I’m sure if they had the choice, they would have spent their entire school day perfecting their creation, so they didn’t have to spend their after school time doing so. If they were only given the time.

Advertisements

Skills, Skills, Skills

We talk about how vital they are to student success.

We come up with intricate plans to sequence them.

Hell, Gangstarr even wrote a whole song about them.

But do students, as Guru puts it, feel it when we drop those?

As education (or a small subset of education) realizes that the traditional content-based approach to teaching and learning is increasingly becoming obsolete, skills make their way to the forefront of many discussions around pedagogy in the 21st century. In IB schools, we have (or should have) a massive focus on what we call Approaches to Learning (ATL) Skills. These permeate all three IB programmes and are central to the learning experiences students should be engaging with in class.

These skills are often the focal point of our lessons and assessment, however – much like content – choice around skill development often rests with the teacher. I struggle with this regularly. There are skills I know my students need in order to be successful on a variety of levels – socially/emotionally, to be a discerning member of a digital world, to keep themselves organized, or to pass their DP exams. I identify these skills and design pathways by which students can become more proficient in using the skills I have so lovingly identified on their behalf.

No harm intended. After all, I’m wise and have my students best interests at heart.

What I think I’m missing out on though, is the opportunity for student to identify, for themselves, what skills they would like to learn.

I’ve taught a lot of subjects within the IB framework – Mathematics, Language and Literature and Media – and I see them all as “skill based” subjects. In fact, we could look at the ATL skills as being “macro” skills with the more subject-specific skill set being “micro” skills. When looking at the IB’s recommend list of ATL skills, we can notice the opportunity for macro skills to beget micro skills.

Using Media as my test subject, I’m about to try out a framework whereby we blend both models of skill development – both student and teacher chosen ATL skills.

Here is the plan I intend to follow:

1. Identify the macro skills:

These are the broader skills which will allow my students to (hopefully) identify and develop subject-based skills of their choosing. For our upcoming unit, in which students are going to develop a filmmaker’s portfolio as the basis with which to somehow creatively contribute to the school, local or online community, I identified three skills which I feel will support students’ development of subsequent skills of their choice. We will be using the following:

  1. An organization skill: Plan short and long term projects and meet deadlines
  2. A media literacy skill: Find, evaluate, synthesize and use information from a variety of sources
  3. A communication skill: Share ideas with audiences using a variety of digital environments and media

2. Support students to develop these macro skills:

Our first step is to ensure students are equipped to plan towards their own intended learning outcomes. We will look at the philosophy of backwards design, setting success criteria, reflecting upon and adjusting those criteria (hello Personal Project) and using digital tools such as Outlook, ManageBac and our mobile phones (“There’s a calendar on my phone?!?”) to set incremental and key deadlines.

Step two is to look at some of the characteristics that make good and not-so-good resources for learning filmmaking skills online. Pretty much everything you’d ever want to know about filmmaking can be found on YouTube, however some of this information is presented very well and others…need improvement. We also need to look at scenarios in which (gasp!) a written or even (double gasp!) human resource might be superior to an instructional video. A key idea here will be that of synthesis. It is paramount that our students are taking the ideas from multiple sources and using them to fulfil their own creative intentions, not simply regurgitating the work of others.

Step three will come towards the end of our unit where we will examine the variety of ways in which we can use our newly developed skill set to support those who might benefit from it.

3. Support students to choose the micro (subject-specific) skill areas they would like to develop:

Screenwriting? Costume design? Lighting? Audio effects? Whatever their area of interest, students should now hopefully feel empowered to learn the micro skills that interest them.

As an aside, isn’t this the whole point to the Approaches to Learning Skills? That students, once equipped with a variety of these skills can be empowered to drive their own learning, confident in the notion that they have, not only the skills to learn, but also the skills to evaluate whether or not that learning is helpful for them to achieve their goals?

4. Identify other skills that have developed along the way:

It’s foolish to think that all learning can be planned in advance. As students work their way through this process, a variety of other ATL skills will almost certainly be developed – something that can be noted and discussed on a student-by-student basis. Here is where I think I get carried away sometimes and have my students over-reflect. In the past, I’d have them retroactively take a look at the entire ATL skills chart and identify further skills they’ve developed. This time, I’m going to take a much more casual approach, as I’ve found in the past that a more rigid reflection leads to even greater instances of teenage groans and further alienation from the process of ATL skill development.

5. Celebrate the crap out of my students’ success:

I’m excited for this unit. Not only because my students can have a large degree of say towards that which they are learning, but because they are all going to learn something that matters to them. So unlike a more traditional assessment (I’m looking at you essays), students will hopefully be more inclined to be proud of what they have done because it is personally relevant. Of course, I hope the big-picture takeaway from this experience is that my students feel empowered with a process that will allow them to direct their own learning in the years to come. But if, in the end, their big takeaway is that they got to learn something they wanted, in a way they wanted and then do something personally relevant with that learning – I think that’s a win too.

Hopefully this balancing act between skills I have chosen and skills the students have chosen works out to be a framework I can use in my other, perhaps more traditional, teaching areas. I’ll update on the process, successes and drawbacks as the unit progresses.

What are some of the ways that you have found to engage students with learning macro or micro skills?

Do you have a framework for supporting students’ skill development? Please share!

We are all learners…and teachers

This year I have the privilege of working with a group of MYP 4 students to usher in our fist media class ever. Up to this point, we have spent the majority of the year setting the table for things to come – generating ideas about what we’d like to learn, building our course outline, inquiring into our assessment objectives and what we might to to reach those objectives and identifying the ATL Skills we will probably need to focus on developing over the course of this year. 

As one of the topics students expressed interest in learning was a bit of film history, we have started our year looking at some of the earliest forms of cinema. This included a one-class filmmaking challenge, where students had to attemp to recreate any scene from Georges Melies’ 1902 classic A Trip to the Moon. Not only was this a fun and humbling project (“I thought old movies didn’t have any effects”, one student said), but it was a great diagnostic tool for my students to see what they knew about using video editing software and what they still needed to learn. As we were showcasing our work, it was clear that two of the students in the class were advanced. Like really advanced. Like using green screen effects to create life-like explosions advanced. Cool.  

After our showcase a student asked me, “Can you teach us how to do that kind of stuff?”. I looked at him, laughed and honestly replied, “No way man. But I bet those guys can.” 

So, while the rest of the class continued to inquire into basic editing skills, two of my students worked to create a lesson on using green screen effects. Yesterday, the first student showed us how to add a smoke effect to our film.

The lesson was amazing! He had: 

  • A game prepared to get the class settled in 
  • An exemplar to show us 
  • Prepared footage for us to download off our Google Classroom page
  • Time to allow us to do some filming and explore our own creativy 
  • The support of our other advanced editor as his TA

I made the choice to join the class as a learner. All control was turned over to the student leading the class. I sat on the floor. I played the game (and won 💪). I felt nervous wondering if anyone would want to be in my group. I joked around with my students on a level I hadn’t found yet this year. And best of all, I learned a skill that I previously didn’t have…check it out: 

Me (as a Dragon) breathing green smoke in the hallways.

Beside the obvious leadership opportunity for the student leading the class and the skill acquisition of the learners, there were some amazing side effects to turning over the teaching to my students. The vibe in the classroom was so relaxed, so communal, so…non school like. Power dynamics between me and the students were gone and, as someone new to the school, it allowed me to really connect with the young men and women in my class on the level of a learner, rather than an “expert”. We were all vulnerable, all making mistakes, all growing our understanding together. 

This has provoked me to turn the teaching over to my students for future classes – but not in the common, inauthentic practice of students teaching each other things that I already know, but the authentic practice of a person who has the expertise leading the entire group of learners. I’m excited see the community that develops during these experiences and I’m especially excited to flatten the dynamics in my class and be one of the learners. 

Have you tapped into your students’ expertise and allowed them to lead the learning? How did it go? 

Students should be writing their own report card comments 

Report card comments. I got them. You got them. Your grandparents got them. They are another great example of antiquated educational practices that take the responsibility of learning out of the hands of the learner and place them in the hands of the teacher. Do I know how the students in my class are doing? Yes. So do you. But are we providing students with authentic opportunities to reflect on and plan for future learning? Or are we doing that for them instead? 

Let’s take a look at the why, how and what behind student written report cards: 

Why should students write their own report card comments? 

  • At the end of the day, it’s their learning and they should be the one’s reflecting on it
  • Data heads (like John Hattie) can agree that the biggest determinate of student success is the student him/herself and reflecting/reporting on their own progress is a key process by which students can tune in to themselves as learners
  • Articulating one’s strengths and areas for growth is an important skill that can and should be transferred beyond the academic realm and into one’s social/emotional/physical wellbeing  
  • Allowing students to engage in the typically teacher-centred act of writing report comments empowers the learner and says to the child “I trust you – you know best about your learning!” 

How can we support students in writing their own report card comments? 

  • Provide students with a structure they can follow (What did you learn this term? What went well? What do you need to improve upon? What’s your plan for improving?
  • Engage in whole class inquiries into ways in which learners can identify their strengths and areas for growth
  • Work with students to generate lists of ways in which they can go about improving in their areas for growth 
  • Leverage spreadsheets and learning portfolios to help students compile data on their learning 
  • Focus students’ comment writing on familiar learning skills, obejctives and character traits to make the task less daunting and more connected to the students’ day-to-day learning
  • Allow for student creativity and freedom in the ways in which they articulate their progress

What can we expect from transitioning this responsibility to students? 

  • Empowered students taking ownership over their own learning
  • A school community that is learner-centred, rather than teacher-centred
  • More engaged conversations at conferences that can (and should) be led by the students 
  • Report card comments that become student-generated plans for how they are going to improve – plans that students, parents and teachers can refer back to on a term-by-terms and year-by-year basis
  • More teacher hours spent supporting student learning in more effective ways than writing comments that students can and should be writing for themselves 

If we must have comments on our report cards (a tool which is meant to be a reflection of learning), should they not come from the learner themselves? 

Have you tried student-written report card comments at your school? Would you? 

A PHE Approach to Teaching and Learning

It’s easy to label PHE as an outsider subject – “Not that important” or it’s euphemistic cousin “non-academic” are two phrases I’ve heard to describe the subject. However, this post is not about the overwhelming importance of PHE*, but rather about a fantastic model for teaching and learning one of our outstanding PHE teachers has been using in her class and why others should follow the same model, regardless of the discipline. 

Start with a goal:

Students are asked to start with a goal – do they want to be able to run faster? Jump higher? Lift more? Lose weight? This is the tuning-in phase where students have the chance to ask themselves, “What would I like to accomplish,  as a result of my learning”? By beginning with a student-generated goal, the learner is naturally placed at the centre of all experiences, as each phase of the learning is a means for the student to accomplish tangible results. 

Identify a method of measurement:

Let’s assume a student’s goal was to be able to increase their cardiovascular endurance. Well, the first thing they would need to do is establish, what their current level of endurance is. In order to do that, the student needs to determine a way to measure not only where they are at currently, but also how they are improving over the course of their program and where they ended up well all was said and done (the infamous Beep Test is the method I saw most students select for this goal…yikes). By identifying their own method of measurement assessment, the student is taking ownership over their own development and ultimately their own sucessess and/or shortcomings. Too often, we as teachers are so concerned with “assessment design” that we rob students of the opportunity to decide for themselves how they would like to track their starting point, progress and ultimate success. 

Build background knowledge, based on student questions:

Here’s where content comes in – not as the impetus for learning, but rather as a means to achieve a tangible goal – and driven, not by teacher demands, but by students’ curiosity. For our example student, they would want to know – what is cardiovascular endurance? How does it work? What body systems are involved in the processes of building endurance? How can nutrition play a part in developing endurance? What type of excercises are most efficacious for building endurance? As students generate these inquiry questions, the teacher is given an opportunity to provoke deep thinking and introduce the student to new knowledge by using their previous understanding (assessed based on the questions students generate on their own) to nudge them towards new understanding (by suggesting new directions for their inquiry). 

Students learning about body systems because it will help them achieve their goal – not because they were told to

Develop skills for learning:

The teacher and student work in partnership to develop the skills necessary to learn what is needed to acheive the ultimate goal. In our PHE example, the student could be supported in developing information literacy, methods for testing hypotheses, synthesis of information, identification of reliable sources and how to document them, developing an action plan, practicing perseverance, reflecting on the process and products of learning etc. As the main driving force for using these approaches to learning skills is goal-driven, student ownership is more present – they are learning and using these skills because it will help them acheive their goal, not because they’ve been told to by an adult who set the learning goals on their behalf. 

Reflect and celebrate on the process and products of learning: 

This is the most important (and most fulfilling) step for both the teacher and the learner. Students are asked to reflect on their goal – how did it go? Did you reach your goals? Why were able to achieve your goal? Why not? What did you learn – about yourself? About your body? About learning? Now that you’ve developed this new understanding, what further action could you take? Here, the opportunity presents itself for students to see learning as an ongoing and valuable process – not just something you do at school because you have to. 

I see this as an extremely authentic way in which to learn: 

Start with a goal. See where you’re at. Learn some new stuff. See where you ended up. Bask in the glory of learning in order to acheive something real. 

Start with a goal. See where you’re at. Learn some new stuff. See where you ended up. Bask in the glory of learning in order to achieve something real. 

While this approach would certainly require a more “academic” subject teacher to let go of the, “everyone needs to be learning the same thing at the same time” stranglehold over the learning in their class (sometimes easier said than done from a management standpoint), the transfer of ownership from teacher-established goals to student-established goals fosters a naturally differentiated environment where learners are empowered by their own hopes and curiosities. 

Using this inspiring model from our PHE team, teachers of any subject can take pride in supporting students to achieve something that actually matters to them. 

How could you apply this model to your subject? What roadblocks would you anticipate? 

*Does that even need to be argued? It’s Physical and Health Education: two aspects of life that could comprise an entire education system. When we look at the issues caused by the rise in obesity, the suffering experienced by those with mental health concerns and the fact that a solid understanding of how to establish and maintain physical and mental wellbeing is the corner stone of preventative health care, one could argue that long exalted subjects like calculus, physics and classical literature are “not that important” in comparison to PHE. 

My day as an MYP Student – The Short Version

Last week, I spent the day going from class to class as an MYP student, experiencing a small taste of what our students experience on a day to day basis. I outlined my reasons for wanting to give being student a try earlier – most importantly to build community with our learners and show them that a school shouldn’t be about top down learning, but a group of people all working to learn together. 

Here is a gimps into what I experienced – if you are interested, check out the full story here! 
Big Takeaways: 

  1. Many students love school, but many students find school to be an uncomfortable place to be. 
  2. There are so many different types of learners – how can we meet them all at their level of interest/understanding? 
  3. Student conversation that sometimes seems like silliness is often provoked by, or is connected to the learning. 
  4. Our teachers are providing a wide range of experiences – hands on, analytical, creative, dialogue-driven etc. – in order to support our students’ growth. 
  5. Having a nice lunch break to play sports is awesome. 
  6. Experiencing students teach me Arabic and seamlessly switch between reading, writing and speaking two very different languages was honestly like watching a magic show – I was in awe. 
  7. There is very little we can do in our classes that will ever be as important to our students as what is going on in their lives, right now. All the more reason to try, as much as possible, to connect the experience of learning to the lives of our students. 
  8. Being a student is hard – you are expected to be “on” all day, completely focused on things you aren’t necessarily choosing to be focused on and expected to be proficient in things that you may not understand, or be interested in. We would rarely hold adults to these types of standards, why do we expect this of children? 
  9. Students appreciate seeing their teachers as learners – the feedback I got from our students was outstanding. 
  10. Simply put, our students are amazing – mad respect. 

I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who is interested in trying it – even if it is only for one class! I not only learned so much about our students, I learned a lot about myself as a learner. My next step? Take this experience and spread it out over a week’s time, with each entire day of the week devoted to one MYP year level. Hopefully I get the chance to do this before the year is out! 

What do you think of this experience? Would you try it? If you do, please let me know!  

My day as an MYP student – The Long Version

Last week, I spent the day going from class to class as an MYP student, experiencing a small taste of what our students experience on a day to day basis. I outlined my reasons for wanting to give being student a try earlier – most importantly to build community with our learners and show them that a school shouldn’t be about top down learning, but a group of people all working to learn together. 

Here’s my story: 

Morning Recess

I started my day hanging out on the soccer pitch with my MYP 1 classmates. I’m not much of a soccer player so the boys weren’t really interested in having me play…so I mostly just chatted to people who were hanging out. Many students were curious about why I would want to be a student for the day which gave me my first provoking thought of the experience – many students don’t enjoy the experience of going to school. School can be intimidating, scary, uncomfortable, yet we are obligated to attend. How can we as educators keep this in mind when we are working with our students? How can we honour the fact that, for many students, school is an uncomfortable place? 

Hanging out before school.


Block 1 – MYP 2 Mathematics

My math experience was awesome! I had done the previous night’s homework and was prepared to discuss my solution to an open-ended problem. However, while in the midst of a great discussion about fractions, I noticed that the dialogue was only happening with about 20% of the class. About 50% of the class seemed disinterested, while the other 30% had either not completed the necessary work, or seemed to not understand the task. This was my next provoking thought – differentiation is hard, but vital. My math teacher did a great job of providing an interesting, open-ended problem and even had developed extensions to the problem for those with a thorough level of understanding. Even though only a few of us participated, the conversation was amazing – but how do we provide the same type of stimulating experience for those with a developing understanding? Or those who simply aren’t interested in conversations? I don’t have  the answers to this, but I know it’s something that I’m going to emphasize in my own practice based on this experience. 

I made this all by myself!


Block 2 – MYP 2 Visual Art

Visual art class was always my least favourite subject in school, which is precisely why I built it into my schedule. I found myself debating with my table mates about the drawings we analyzed, despite being instructed to work independently. I said the drawing looked like a peacock, but my group disagreed, so I pulled out my device to Google images of peacocks to prove my point…again, against the rules. This provoked my thinking further about student behaviour. Yes, I was breaking the rules, but I was doing so in order to have quality debate with my classmates. How often do we perceive student talk or student tech use to be an act of defiance, when it is actually an act of learning? 

The infamous peacock drawing


Block 3 – MYP 5 Language and Literature

Summative time! My only summative assessment expereince of the day had me and my classmates creating a piece of social protest (I chose to create an infographic protesting traditional schooling), which I hope we get a chance to share in some forum or another. Students were highly engaged in the opportunity to share their voice; reaffirming that action is a crucial component in engaging learners. One sad takeaway was the number of students who were protesting the pressures they feel are placed upon them at school. Extreme pressure to perform in school is something very real for our students and something that, I must admit, I never really had placed on me as a child. Hearing my classmates’ experience with this type of pressure made me wonder – how do we strike a balance between having high standards for our students, while at the same time ensuring that we aren’t putting too much stress upon them? 

Lunch

Played basketball the entire time – amazing. 

Getting ready to ball!


Block 4 – Phase 2 Lanaguage Acquisition – Arabic

Mind blown! My two biggest takeaways from this experience were: 1) our students are amazing! The ability to speak and write, interchangeably in both English and Arabic – two languages that don’t share the same characters or even the same direction in which you write – is nothing short of amazing. 2) The small amount of Arabic I know after four years in Kuwait is sad. That being said, I was invited into a group where we wrote a skit about going to the dentist. I learned many new phrases and have even been invited back to perform for the class! 

Language Acquisition class had me in awe


Block 5 – MYP 3 Individuals and Societies

We were working on a reserach project in I & S, so I was given independent time to continue my inquiry, which I did, but with an ear out for what our students were discussing as they inquired. The big topics of discussion? Plans for how groups of friends were going to meet up at the Under 14 Girls’ Soccer Championships and what everyone was doing afterwards. Unless the teacher passed by, virtually 100% of the conversation was dominated by whom was driving whom, whom was sitting with whom and where the victory party would be afterwards. This lead me to perhaps my biggest takeaway of the day – students have lives. They have hopes, fears, friends, family, relationships, developing identities and developing minds and bodies that all create their fair share of drama, confusion and excitement. Virtually nothing we can do as educators can come close to being as important to our students as their own unfolding lives – as it should be. We, as educators, are so passionate about our work that we can sometimes lose sight of the fact that our students are real human beings with real lives.  Our students will probably never care about our classes as much as we do, so instead of emphasizing our class why not put the emphasis on caring for and about our students as human beings? 

Big Takeaways: 

  1. Many students love school, but many students find school to be an uncomfortable place to be. 
  2. There are so many different types of learners – how can we meet them all at their level of interest/understanding? 
  3. Student conversation that sometimes seems like silliness is often provoked by, or is connected to the learning. 
  4. Our teachers are providing a wide range of experiences – hands on, analytical, creative, dialogue-driven etc. – in order to support our students’ growth. 
  5. Having a nice lunch break to play sports is awesome. 
  6. Experiencing students teach me Arabic and seamlessly switch between reading, writing and speaking two very different languages was honestly like watching a magic show – I was in awe. 
  7. There is very little we can do in our classes that will ever be as important to our students as what is going on in their lives, right now. All the more reason to try, as much as possible, to connect the experience of learning to the lives of our students. 
  8. Being a student is hard – you are expected to be “on” all day, completely focused on things you aren’t necessarily choosing to be focused on and expected to be proficient in things that you may not understand, or be interested in. We would rarely hold adults to these types of standards, why do we expect this of children? 
  9. Students appreciate seeing their teachers as learners – the feedback I got from our students was outstanding. 
  10. Simply put, our students are amazing – mad respect. 

I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who is interested in trying it – even if it is only for one class! I not only learned so much about our students, I learned a lot about myself as a learner. My next step? Take this experience and spread it out over a week’s time, with each entire day of the week devoted to one MYP year level. Hopefully I get the chance to do this before the year is out! 

What do you think of this experience? Would you try it? If you do, please let me know!