Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Reconsidering Time and Transitions

One goal I have for teaching is to teach so that everyone is engaged and there are few to no behavioral issues. Typically engagement is equivalent to investment, respect, and good behavior.

So each time there's a behavioral issue, I think deeply about it. What created this upset in the day?

Today, after a tough day yesterday, I redesigned the learning menu to include lots of choice, clear expectations, and a good introduction.  For the most part, everyone was on task and I had time to work with several individuals with good coaching. It was just the way I like it.

However when the time for transition came, no one wanted to budge--everyone was engaged and were slow to put away the laptops, organize their materials, and line up for art.  I must say I waited too long for the transition since I was engaged in such good coaching that I didn't want to stop.

When I arrived at art, I let the teacher know about their resistance to transition due to their investment in the deep learning and activity.  She understood as she sees 400 students a week all transitioning within 45 or 30-minute periods.

This whole affair reminded me of the great exercise we did at Educon several years ago. Gary Stager led us in a great discussion of the typical school schedule. After the discussion it was clear that most people don't like to learn that way, a way that was modeled after old time factories.

So what's a teacher to do?

I think we need to begin thinking about longer, deeper modules of learning--modules with greater choice and voice.  This is not news to most educators, but today's events reminded me of the importance while yesterday's events (the tough day) reminded me how children will no longer stand for old learning--they know what's possible. Then last night I looked over this Atlantic article which shed even more light on the topic.

What's possible today is amazing, and the challenge is to teach so that we unleash that potential.

So if we analyze the behavior carefully, we'll find nuggets of gold when it comes to teaching well, and often those nuggets of gold are related to reconsidering time and transitions. Onward.