Wednesday, March 12, 2014

12/31 What I Want Learning to Look LIke

I’ve spent the day at our state collaborative meeting for Competency Based Education.  (#IaCompEd in case you want to follow along). The work is hard. The work is chaotic. The work is important.  

It is frustrating at times. Sometimes I just want to yell, "JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO!" 

But I don't really want that. I want to put my two cents in and make it count. 

It requires a lot. There are over 100 people putting their two cents in and sometimes it doesn't make sense. We don't always agree (shocking in education, I know).

“Brain-melting”, as one district team puts it.

A tweet from another participant, who's an associate superintendent, got me thinking

I love this. It got me thinking about what I really wanted to see in education.  It comes from my core belief about learning, and it's what gets me coming back to this collaborative group monthly.

  •   I want student learning to mesh together. Nothing I learn is in isolation. Everything connects…is interdependent. Student learning should be the same way.
  •       Students need to find their passions interests and learn through those passions interests
  •      Teachers are really coaches, helping students with practice
  • ·      Skills/competencies can be learned anywhere, not in a specific “classroom”, with a specific teacher, who teaches in isolation

How would this look?
  • ·      Open concept school layout. No classrooms. How about  “learning studios”? Work where you are comfortable, with whom you are comfortable, even when you are comfortable.
  • ·      When a student needs help, find the person to coach them while working on the competency
  • ·      Class time?  Open. Learning doesn’t happen in 45 minute blocks of time. Sometimes I spend all day on a piece of writing. Having to stop after 45 minutes interrupts the flow of thought. 
  • ·      No more grade levels. How about Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, Phase 4 (thanks Libby Schwade). Work through the competencies. Finish a phase and move on

I know this looks and sounds crazy. I know that there are many questions. I know there are many issues to be addressed.  I know, I know, I know.  But,  if you don’t know what you want learning to look like, how do you get there?


  1. Not crazy at all, Deb. Pure awesomeness. You should never be scared to share ideas like this!!! :-)

  2. Love, love, love this. Thank you for sharing your ideas---I know it can be scary, but I'd venture to say there are really a lot of us out there in complete agreement. Your dream school sounds like an amazing place to learn.

  3. I think the concept is amazing. I hope I am still teaching when it becomes a reality.

  4. I love the idea of Phase 1, Phase 2, etc. My students would so benefit from that model. Let your voice be heard!

  5. This sounds like an amazing idea! Teachers should be coaches, and I love the idea of open time. My students (and youngest daughter) would totally benefit from your plan.

  6. I remember a middle school I attended was similar to your dream. There were "houses" of students (they were in grade levels) and teachers mixed and mingled together lessons that were taught as a grand, thematic unit. Students got to go to different parts of the "house" during the day to learn math concepts, writing work, etc. having to do with the theme. I remember learning being FUN!

    1. This sounds amazing! Where was this school?

  7. Deb,
    I think you share some interesting ideas. Your point about work times is so true. I feel terrible sometimes when my students just get into a groove in their writing and I'm playing the music to clean up for the next workshop. We ask students to learn in ways that would be hard for us. It sounds like important work you are doing. Thanks for sharing your thinking.


  8. Mentioned your post in my post. Thanks for the inspiration, again.

  9. That sounds AMAZING! I'm IN!!! :)

  10. Not crazy at all. Keep envisioning, sharing with other educators and working toward it. You can make change happen. Step by step.

  11. I don't think your vision seems "crazy" at all -- rather, refreshing and inspiring. I think it's our current, broken, educational system that is "crazy."