Chapter 2 is all about concerns teachers may have as they begin to start to develop a student-led classroom.
My thought about this is that if you're reading this book you are more that willing to give this student-led thing a try! This is the chapter of excuses. These are relevant concerns but as lifelong learners and teachers, we are always looking for new things to try in our classrooms and new ways to do things. I have never had a completely student-led classroom but I was well on my way last year without really even knowing it.
We are a Leader in Me Lighthouse School and as part of that we looked for ways to give our students leadership roles. My kids had things in the classroom that they were responsible for (answering the phone, taking attendance, doing the lunch count, etc.) and I know now that this was the beginning of my student-led classroom.
Concern #2- "I can't do this. I'm definitely going to make a lot of mistakes and fail."
Of course there will be lots of mistakes made but isn't there always when you're trying something new with your students? I say give it a try, learn from those mistakes, and keep on trying. It is great for my students to see me make mistakes. We use it as a discussion for how everyone makes mistakes, which is part of learning. I always tell my students if they think they can't then they can't. It is all about attitude and giving it a try.
Concern #5- "I'm overwhelmed, I don't know where to begin!"
To that I say, just pick a point and give it a try! The worst thing that could happen is that it won't work for you and you'll make those quick changes we make every day as teachers and find something that will work for you.
Concern #6- "But, won't my room get loud?"
This one is laughable for me because I'm always that teacher with the loud class. I've found that students can often help each other understand things better than I can. I encourage relevant discussion between my students and we celebrate the fact that they are helping each other. After reading this book, I see other ways I can continue to encourage this with my students and I'm so excited to start next year!
Concern #9- "My students can't do this."
This goes back to my point with concern #2. If you say they can't then they won't. But if you have high expectations (and I'm sure you all do) then they will live up to those expectations. Sure there will be mistakes along the way but that's just part of the learning process for us all.
There are several other concerns but those are the ones that jumped out at me while reading this chapter.
I've seen the benefits of small groups working together to solve problems in my classroom. We always say two heads are better than one. My goal is to find a way for my students to collaborate more often and find ways for them to participate in problem solving where each may bring a different strength to the table. That's the way I work as an adult, if I don't know how to do something I ask someone I know, tweet out a question, search the Internet, or just sit down and talk with friends/co-workers to brainstorm ideas. Shouldn't our students be doing this as well?
I am ready to jump in with a student-led classroom but it will take time. I'm still working on my plan for the school year but that's the idea. It is a working plan and I know some things won't work right. I'm excited to give it a try and see what happens with my students!