When administrators are called and asked to come down to a classroom, some concerning scenarios can come to mind. For all the planning that goes into a day at any school, there’s always an element of unpredictability.
Recently I received one of those calls from a teacher. Without pause I headed down. To my relief, she wanted to share how her recent effort to introduce more student-centered project-based learning (PBL) with her young students was playing out. Her classroom was a busy hive of learning, with children researching different aspects of Islington Village’s history. They were following the research process they’d been learning since grade 2, and discovering fascinating stories that happened on the very ground that they live, play and learn on every day. The greater student choice was part of the responsible risk for this teacher – would the students end up successful, can they handle the freedom, the challenge? These are among the many good questions teachers consider in everything they do. She took the risk to give more freedom than usual, and was so excited to see how they were responding that she asked me to come check it out.
I’ve enjoyed many of those moments with our increased effort to bring project-based learning to KCS. Blog followers already know about the fish project in JK. Our grade 7 science teacher shared his delight at how all of his students are responding to the new Lego robotics challenge they face this term, designing a device that would help in the event of a natural disaster. Our grade 6 to 8 students are embracing the current art challenge to create their showcase piece on ‘celebration’, in any way their hearts and skills take them. Our primary teachers shared their efforts at a recent meeting and it’s clear that they’re all taking steps and seeing promise.
The unpredictability of the school day isn’t always an educator’s favourite part of this profession. Tough things happen and we’re the first responders. Some unpredictability this year has been a real treat, however. The success of PBL, while not unpredictable, was a surprise I didn’t know was coming with that call from a teacher. It’s a surprise that I look forward to our teachers and students, and me, experiencing more and more at KCS.
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.