In my new role as a professional development coordinator I have been busy planning and writing about project based learning, proficiencies and personalized learning plans. On a regular basis my brain is full to bursting with new research, teacher ideas, education articles, and more. So lately I’ve turned to illustrating concepts and ideas with sketches and doodles, kind of like in high school and college. I never really did stop doodling. This time, it helps me communicate information in a different way and improves my synthesis of information. So, I’ll be posting my new #edudoodles here in this new series.
I bet you have big dreams of creative, innovative projects and engaged students in your classroom. Students who are busy researching, collaborating, creating, and solving authentic problems they are interested in.
But this doesn’t happen without a strong community of learners.
Why build a strong classroom community?
Project-based learning, or PBL, is a wonderful way to engage students in their own learning. But if the community is not ready to feel safe, take risks, and be supportive it can fall flat. Here are some ways to build a strong, supportive and inclusive community that is ready to engage and be inspired by PBL.
During the planning for the first few weeks of school, it is so important to build trust, community and shared experiences. One way to do this is to schedule regular team-building activities. These are a fun break from hearing about expectations and instead doing get-to-know you activities because they are often physical and challenge different learning styles. See the link for ideas and grab a few that fit your schedule.
Ownership of the space
I stumble into a hotel, laden with my bags, my kids’ stuffed animals, eager to go to sleep.
After driving cross country, camping for several weeks, then starting back across the country, I’m excited for clean sheets, a flush toilet, and a fluffy pillow. Simple, lovely things we take for granted. I’m ready to dive in the cozy heap and call it a night.
First I walk into the bright, sterile bathroom. A wide mirror stretches across the wall. It’s huge. I look up, and think, “Oh, that is what I look like?” and immediately think next, “Damn, I need some sleep, a haircut, etc. etc.” quickly followed by, “I’m looking old.”
But wait. You see, I hadn’t thought any of that a minute ago. In fact, I hadn’t looked in a mirror for weeks. The only time I did was when I’d tilt the rear view mirror my direction and take out my contacts before crawling into the tent. My thoughts were filled with camping dinners, day time hikes, my daughters, the magnificent wildlife and scenery, and what I was reading, not anything related to my appearance.
Like most campers, I wore only what made me warm and comfortable. Tevas with wool socks. My hooded sweatshirt with the hood up. I had no care about any of it – only that I wanted to stay warm and dry (which is no easy task in Yellowstone’s weather-finicky Lamar valley). I didn’t change clothes for days, except at night into my “non bear-y” clothes so the grizzlies didn’t come visit our tent. We took a handful of showers over the course of 3 weeks. I didn’t really miss them. Continue reading