Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves. Ernest Dimnet, Art of Thinking, 1928
Due to an experience in the summer of 2010, with Quality Learning and a gentleman named David Langford, I have made a point to have periodic conversations with students about how they learn. These 10-15 minute conversations, regardless of the grade level of the child, never disappoint. See, Mr. Langford, along with my new boss, introduced me to W. Edwards Deming, and what I thought I knew about student-centered learning was turned upside down. Since that time I have sought to find the answers to questions about learning, creating ownership, fostering pride and joy and facilitating unlimited possibilities.
Seeking these answers has led me to the usual suspects, The DuFours, Reeves, Marzano, Stiggins, etc, but truly owning my learning and opening a Twitter account was the best step I could take. Seeing the thinking of others, interacting with their thoughts and synthesizing my own has been incredibly empowering. The next step has been clear for a few weeks now I just haven't taken the plunge. Tonight, however is the night. This is my first blog post. I am a principal learning, and the day that ends is the day it is time to move on. My hope is that I push my own thinking through this effort. If I happen to enhance the thinking of someone else too, that's even better.
For my first post I wanted to capture the power of students taking ownership of their learning. We had parent/teacher conferences this past week. I was very excited by the fact that, for the first time, a number of teachers chose to have student-led conferences. The excitement I heard in their voices as they prepared for, and then carried out these conferences was contagious. I had to find something to reinforce the choice they had made and to show them they were on the right track. I also wanted to show them this wasn't new or radical. I found the above quote from a book written in 1928, and I had my message. Learning is and has always been learning. Sometimes it is just easier to think of the learner as an empty vessel. We can just disseminate the knowledge and go home. Moving forward my hope is that we can standardize this practice. I want to see us get out of the way of the learner. I want students to own their achievements and find joy in sharing with those that care about them.
I am interested in hearing how others create student ownership of learning. Feel free to share your thoughts. I look forward to sharing my own educational journey. I'm just a principal learning.