Lesson Ten: Your Ideas of "What Learning Looks Like" Will Differ from Those of your Students

Thursday Afternoon
Noise Level: High
Task: Finish up rich performance task related to physical activity and nutrition (write song, write story, make healthy living advertisement or research physical activity opportunities in the community)


I am running around the classroom answering questions, keeping students on task and assessing at the same time. I notice over time a student constantly cruising around the classroom. Thinking that this student was not working, I walked over and asked to see their work. Surprisingly, he handed me an almost complete project. I realized that although this student appeared to be off task, he was really just self-regulating so that he could do his work with more efficiency. Over these past few weeks I have noticed more and more that my conceptions of “learning” and what it should look like do not align with the embodied experiences of my students. When I was in school, learning meant that you were sitting quietly in your desk, complying with the teacher’s expectations. In the school I am in, beautifully enhanced with diversity in culture, learning styles, life experiences, etc. I have learned that in many cases, sitting quietly in a desk is not learning. The question is, do we want our children to be experts at following directions and complying with demands, or do we want them to be critical thinkers, questioning norms and having the skills to self-direct and make a difference? I would imagine that educators today would choose the latter. It is still important to have expectations, but we need to analyse our foundational ideas about school. Do I get caught up in the fact that my student is not sitting quietly in his desk, “working” (the way I imagine working to be) or do I celebrate the students ability to self-direct and demonstrate self-regulation, self-control and responsibility for learning? Well today I celebrated and it is my goal to do so in other environments as well. Whether a student is doodling, walking around, chewing on their pencil, or sitting, students self-regulate and enhance their learning in so many ways. The challenge is for us educators to recognize that and include it in our conceptions of learning. 

“The great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers rather than to fill it with the accumulation of others” — Tyron Edwards


~ Let’s change this.

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