Let Your Students Drive

--Originally published at Flipped Learning

The demands on today's educators to meet the needs of ALL learners continue to evolve and change quicker than the rise of Twitter. When you examine the teacher workload that includes high-stakes testing, incorporation of technology, behavior plans, Individualized Educational Plans, intervention strategies/programs, performance-based pay, and coaching duties - it's no wonder lesson planning and high-quality instruction may take a back seat.

Yet, there is a very unique and humble solution - Let the Students Drive! Who knows their own learning style better than each and every student. Why must we continue to confine students to the same rigor and assessment style that has not worked for decades? As educators, we set the criteria for learning, but why not let the students choose how they show you what has been learned?

While a bit scary, and perhaps intimidating at first, allowing your students to drive their education will engage them in the learning process in ways you could have never imagine. Instead of asking students to recite a formula in math, why not let them create a rap or song to show off their artistic side? Rather than an old-fashioned Power Point, why not allow students to use a web tool to display their knowledge of the food chain? Better yet, instead of writing a paper about the Holocaust, why not allow students to complete Character Sketches through the use of a Blog to role play and interact with classmates?

You see, the more educators try to stay the same, the more students push back. Aren't we the content experts - don't we already know the answers? At some point, we need to teach students how to UNLEARN what they have already LEARNED about learning. Allow students to choose their vehicle of learning. Allow students to choose how to get to the destination. Allow students to fail and challenge our own thinking. Only then can we be the expert that helps guide them along the way and back on the right path when they are wrong. In doing so so, we can help students better develop critical thinking, problem solving, and analyzing skills.

If only we all taught like Pirates, as Dave Burgess would say. We need to teach with Passion, Immerse ourselves in our subjects, build Rapport with our students, Ask/Analyze our current practices, Transform our classroom practices, and be Enthusiastic.

Will you let your students drive the ship matey? Aaargghh

 

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