What I am finding interesting during TheMindLab sessions is that I am a learner in a classroom. Last night has me reflecting on what this is like for me.
I am experiencing what it is like to be a learner where there is an emphasis on creating rather than consuming – being an active participant instead of passive consumer. Time sure flies by when we are busy and engaged in creation. This is the same for the kids in our classes. Getting kids active and creating is way more engaging than having them sitting passively and consuming something that someone else thinks is important. Being a creator using your own knowledge or through sharing knowledge is way more relevant and meaningful. It make us feel we have accomplished something.
I am experiencing what it is like to have to take a risk and share my ideas with people I don’t know well yet – will it be accepted, discussed, changed, modified, or dumped completely? Will they care how that would make me feel? Should it bother me if they do or don’t? Is this the way our kids in our classes feel in the same situation? Is this why some kids choose not to contribute ideas at all … it is a risk they are unwilling to take? Or is it just easier to let others make the decisions and go with the flow? Or perhaps it is that it requires some thinking in the first place? Maybe they are not wanting to think because it is not engaging for them? All this reflection has me realising the importance of building a safe, supportive culture in the classroom – to ensure these doubts and feelings do not result in learners choosing not to participate and contribute for fear of being wrong or not being accepted. But also providing experiences which are meaningful to the kids…so they want to think, be a contributor, and have some input to what is being created.
I am put in situations which have me swinging between being an empowering follower, a contributor, and a leader – wanting to have input and something worthwhile to contribute but not wanting to push my ideas over someone else’s … there seems to be a fine line between these states. If you wait for others to share their ideas it might result in you not getting your idea in the mix because the others have already chosen someone else’s. But if I don’t make a suggestion will it look like I have nothing to contribute? Part of me also feels I need to accept their idea over mine and be that empowering follower… it makes people feel good when others like their idea. Will there be an opportunity for me to lead at any point? Is it important that I show I can be a leader? Or is it okay to be that team player who allows others to lead? It makes me wonder if my own students have these same thoughts when asked to carry out collaborative tasks. It is evident in our classes who the kids are who like to lead, have the ideas, those who know how to compromise, those who are the doer’s, those who would rather be passive, and those who encourage others. Next time I will observe more carefully whether their roles change depending on the task and / or the people they are collaborating with.
Does all this actually have more to do with our personalities rather than our willingness or not to participate, to take risks, be an empowering follower or a leader or a contributor? Or is it to do with the environment around us that determines our level of engagement and contributions? Or is it the people we are collaborating with that determine our level of contribution? Depending on who we collaborate with could mean our own role changes within the group in different circumstances … there could be times when I am more of a leader than an empowering follower and times when I am more of a contributor than a leader. I don’t think there really is a right or a wrong in any of this. It more about the learning we do from the experience.
What is interesting for me is I am enjoying observing and quietly reflecting on the way others behave in the same situations.
And maybe now I should reflect on the actual topic for next week …
Which 21 century skills related area do I want to focus on for Assignment 1? Why? Would my students agree? How do I know?