My best learning experience

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Reflect on your own personal learning journey and K-12 education. Identify one learning experience that you can point to as having made a significant impact on some element of your own growth and development. It could be that teacher and subject that really sparked significant growth or a trip that opened your eyes to a whole new world or way of thinking or a non-catastrophic failure that you learned so much from.

One moment that has resonated with me as a student, and teacher, is a day of (perceived) significant failure as a student. In my Grade 11 year, I remember going to my three science classes, back to back, and received a failing grade on all of my unit tests. Each test had my score and a note from the teacher –  “what happened?!” in Biology, “Why?!” from Chemistry, and “see me after class” from Physics. Needless to say, that was a rough day as a teenager, and heading home to explain these scores to my parents was my nightmare. I moved on with support from my teachers and didn’t think much past it. Fast forward to my Biology class in Teacher’s College. We walk into the room, and the teacher has placed various assessments on our desk, all with a different framework, or method of writing down scores. My stomach dropped. I hadn’t realized that I still felt nervousness and shame over that day. The teacher engaged us in a meaningful conversation around how students interpret and review feedback, and how teachers can create a safe environment within their classroom around their assessments. A small moment in time, but a defining moment in how I approach my classroom teaching. I share this story with my students to explain to them why their mark is embedded in small within the assignment (never on the first page), and why the writing for my comments, and feedback is larger/more significant than the score on the page. I try to emphasize that learning is about next steps, and less about the percentage acquired on an evaluation.

What is the one Learning skill (MOE) or Approach to Learning (IB ATL) that you feel is MOST important in this day and age? How do you intentionally build it into your curriculum and develop it in your students throughout the year?

Collaboration is a vital skill to develop and refine in our students. Our world is increasingly interconnected, and it is important that students understand the value of diverse perspectives and world views when exploring an issue. Students need to know how to communicate effectively with each other, and learning how to act as mentors to younger students, or collaborate with senior experts. In my classes, students have a seating plan that changes each day, ensuring that all students experience an opportunity working with each other. Students work in groups, seek out expertise, and take on a variety of roles within the classroom. Students should leave school appreciating that when working in a constructive team, much more can be accomplished, and they can learn from each member of that group.

Collaboration

Image source: https://slackhq.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/collaborative-leadership-hero.jpg?w=460 

 

 

6 Replies to “My best learning experience”

  1. Hey @vfloras, thanks for this post!

    Sooooo looking forward to working and learning with you again! You’ve highlighted the importance of personalized learning here in your example and that decreasing the ‘transactional’ nature of learning is a priority for you – thanks for that. If you read some of the other participants’ blogs, you’ll know that you are not alone in this!

    I love your image – so dynamic and that there is no ‘teacher at the front’!

    See you on Saturday!
    Garth.

  2. Hi Vanessa!
    Many have focused on collaboration as a key learning skill! When I saw your image, I couldn’t help think it also could represent a regular old day in the life of a teacher…juggling, balancing, supporting, questioning…
    Looking foward to working with you this year and meeting you on Saturday!!
    Lisa.

  3. Hello Vanessa (@vfloras),

    You will find many many Cohort21 teachers empathizing with your story here on the harmful affects misplaced or misdiagnosed evaluation can have on an adolescent searching for meaningful feedback. I’m at the point in my career where the metacognitive has eclipsed the cognitive in terms of what I want my students to get from a lesson. I would say most of my lessons are now about the relevance of lessons themselves.

    I look forward to helping with your action plan this year. Welcome to Cohort21 and welcome to Cedar Group!

    Cheers,
    Eric

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