On an average teaching day, I may read Macbeth with my students, facilitate literature circles and teach the finer aspects of essay writing – why would a school focused on tinkering and using power tools be of interest to me? This question digs into some of the deeper issues within education. However to maintain a spirit in accordance with what one of my students said recently, “The secret stands in finding your area of influence,” I will focus on the English classroom.
The reason why Tulley was inspiring for me was his spirit of innovation and his really cool ideas, in particular this one:
Of course, the PBL wasn’t perfect. In the feedback from students they requested more time (of course), more check-ins (very important for every PBL), and a more structured system for collaborating with other teachers. The last one was especially tricky since schedule conflicts prevented students from teaching every section of a class, which would have certainly been beneficial for everyone involved.
However, the PBL was a success – the students had taken ownership of their learning and were pleased to have had the freedom to pursue their own research and present their findings in a way that was different from the usual essay.
I took a risk with my students, and at the end of the day, they didn’t let me down because I trusted them to take responsibility for their learning. The students weren’t using power tools, but they were certainly directing their own learning and that’s the tinkering spirit that can be found in any classroom.