What I learned
At New Tech, teachers are always scratching our heads as to why projects always seem to take way longer than we expected. Now I get it. Collaboration and creativity takes time. I have a much better sense of why students look like they are goofing off and are not using their class time wisely. It is so tempting to just talk the time away. If it's hard for adults, under a deadline to stay focused, it must be doubly hard for teenagers, where the importance of being social is so key to developmental growth.
Strategies for Staying Focused
Interested in learning about how to stay focused? Here are a few related blog posts with great strategies:
One of the things that continues to keep me actively engaged in the process of creating Innovative Learning, is the clear alignment between what is important to me as an educator and what New Tech's Mission Statement.
MissionOur mission is to inspire students to be responsible, resilient, and personally successful in the rapidly changing 21st century, and to be a student-centered model for educational innovation.
I love that the concept of relevance is the leading concept in our school's vision. As I continue to explore personalized learning in my classroom, the main push has been to foster Agency. Helping students to find personal relevance for their learning is a critical part of exploring and discussing Agency.
In my Level 3: 3D Printing and Video Storytelling, my students have just completed 7 weeks of learning where they got to choose their own projects, set their own deadlines and follow their own creative and technical noses. I have never been prouder of my students when they presented to the class and defended their learning. They included information about their learning journey, where there were stumbling blocks, what they did to surmount those obstacles, and took total responsibility for their end results.
Below you will see two examples of student presentations. Many students said that they would be continuing on with their projects and learning outside of class and were clear about their next steps. Even those students who struggled to find their "groove" have hinted that they would like to try the personalized learning format again, perhaps in the Spring Semester.
As a member of the Deeper Learning Team at New Tech, we continue to explore how we envision the next 20 years at our school. As long as we keep our mission statement and vision at the forefront of our minds, I know that we will continue to do great things. I am hoping that we continue to move more toward personalized learning, whatever that may look like.
Lisa Gottfried is a CTE teacher with 20 years experience as CEO of her own Video and Motion Graphics Production house. She currently teaches Intro to Digital Media, Video Production and Game/3D Design. She loves her job and her students!