We all seem to work in silos creating our lesson, unit plans, course outlines, projects and assessment. It seems to be the norm that many teachers seem to sit quietly in their space doing amazing work. Many of us don't seem to want to be in front of others sharing our ideas.
For many years, I have been teaching all secondary science and math classes and I have always done this a bit different from others. You see, for me the most important thing for a student is that they are having fun at school because that leads to amazing learning. I want all students to feel they can and should take my classes not matter what their plans for the future are.
I started removing tests from my classes long ago. A group of teachers and myself worked on performance tasks for each unit. These project based learning opportunities allow my students to show their knowledge of the unit content but also extend their learning as far as they wish. I have also converted all my exams to hands on lab stations. Performance based testing is a form of testing that requires students to perform a task rather than an answer from an already made list.
For me, I want to know that my students understand the content but can also extend the learning by applying the content. I am also better able to assess my students ability to meet the curricular competencies of questioning & predicting, planning & conducting, processing & analyzing data, evaluating, applying and innovating and communicating the learning. This also leads to the applying of the core competencies too.
So, I am confident in my work in my classroom and I know it works for all learners but I am still scared to share it for fear it will not be received well. I bit the bullet and applied to present at CAFLN 2019 and they accepted me. Wow, I really had to come out of my silo and share. Oh, what have I done. Will people understand my ideas? Will they agree with my thoughts? Will teachers be willing to change the status quo in secondary sc/ma? And most of all will anybody even show up?
May 3, 2019 hits and I enter my assigned presentation space and set up. Low and behold, people have shown up. After I shared my ideas and did a little experiment and showed my classes in video, there were questions. I was happy to see that others were excited to discuss this change. I shared my highs and lows, offered up any examples they would like and left it open for anyone to contact me. It was a success.
I am leaving the Canadian Assessment For Learning Conference with a regained sense of hope for change. I also realized that we as educators must all share what we are doing and try to help the bigger picture and not just live in our safe silos.