Educators work hard. Really hard. Teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators, principals, vice-principals, and superintendents spend countless hours to make a difference for students. We are good at planning and presenting. We go to professional learning sessions, participate actively and feel energized. We read inspiring books on education or leadership and make concrete changes to our practice. We plan, we write, we reflect, we ponder, we read, we collaborate, we observe, we care. A lot of effort is focussed on what we do.
Do we spend as much time focussed on what students are thinking and doing?
One chapter of the book Instructional Rounds in Education is dedicated to the instructional core, or the relationship between the teacher, the student and the content. (The School Effectiveness Framework from Ontario also shows the importance of the instructional core.) In the centre of the instructional core is the instructional task. We know that task predicts performance. A worksheet to practice addition facts or an algebraic algorithm will not lead to the same learning as a rich open ended question where students have to create knowledge. In addition, many educators are experimenting with student inquiry and how to “build on students’ natural curiosity about the world in which they live” and to “place students’ questions and ideas, rather than solely those of the teacher, at the centre of the learning experience. Students’ questions drive the learning process forward.” (from Natural Curiosity)
I wonder what would happen if we focussed less on what we do as educators and more on what students are doing and thinking in our classrooms. If time was spent on the partnership between student and teacher, and we used student interest coupled with overall curriculum expectations, then maybe there would be less educator time planning, creating and presenting. And maybe, just maybe, students would be the ones planning, creating and presenting.