Monday, 13 February 2012

The unexpected curriculum

I think it's interesting how as a teacher you can plan a series of lessons or learning experiences for students, and then when they're put into action a whole lot of other learning also takes place?

Last week's key focus was going to be how we could apply design thinking and some creativity to turning a traditional classroom space into something that would better enable teams to carry out project based work, and that would be interesting and inspiring to spend time in. We achieved this, to a reasonable extent, although there are still many parts of this project to complete (chief among them being getting rid of the world's ugliest curtains and replacing them with a window treatment that allows us to vary light levels, and reduces heat from the sun).

However, there was other, less fully anticipated, but ultimately more important learning that took (and will continue to take) place:
  • How do you work with people who have a different work ethic and work output to you?
  • Working with the same people all day is quite different to the usual secondary school scenario. How do you get the best out of this?
  • What additional skills and contacts do we each bring to a project such as this, and how can we utilise them to achieve the greatest value for the project?
  • When helping students to develop their problem solving skills, what is the balance between making it too easy for them by giving them my answers, and making it too hard for them by leaving them completely to their own devices?
  • How do you use a belt sander? How much paint will hessian board absorb before it stops looking patchy?
  • People who may not have been entirely excited about a project when you describe it to them can have a much more positive response when they see it in the flesh, and see the learning that is taking place.
  • Support staff are incredible - in our case two of the ground staff put their other work on hold for most of two days to help us out
Some of this learning was relatively easy and pleasant. Other learning was, and will continue to be, challenging. Some of the learning was experienced by the students. Much of the learning was experienced by their teacher.

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