Apologies for pics missing in this blog – I am hunting them out!
I love AJ Juliani’s blog and I love that it comes direct to my inbox. If you haven’t read his stuff, then do it. They make sense and are, more often than not, full of practical ways to innovate in your classroom.
Earlier in the year I read this post from him: 10 practical ways to innovate in your classroom and was inspired. I immediately wanted to do every single one on the list. And I have done some of them, in varying degrees (either in the past or since I read the post). One that leapt out at me in particular was a student led educamp. I love educamps as a teacher (who doesn’t love educamps as a teacher?!) and thought, yeah, my kids could do that.
You know how time gets away on you? Well, it got away on me and I still hadn’t had my educamp. So, as soon as I knew I was leaving classroom teaching I knew I had to set a date for it. I dragged my neighbour at school, the epic @RobynGrundmann (Room 19 to my 18, right hip to my left) into doing one with me in the last week of the term. A beginning teacher, Robyn jumped on board. Well, I didn’t really give her a choice to be honest!
I told my students and they were very excited. They started planning immediately. Did I mention they were excited???
I took a fairly casual attitude towards the planning of it. With Robyn I organised a timetable of when things would happen and just decided what will be, will be. If it succeeded, choice. If it failed, then that would be good learning for us and for the students as well.
We decided to have 10 – 15 minute sessions for each one and ended up with 4 sessions worth of options in 4 venues. This was our timetable:
It went really well. The kids were amped for it!
Everything ran fairly smoothly!
Most students enjoyed it!
Most students listened!
The teaching by the students was great (for the most part)!
We learnt stuff! Me and them!
The students wanted to do it again!
I think this was a great opportunity for students to take ownership of their learning, to lead others, to feel they had choices and to try something different. I would do it again and I would do it again!
Changes I would make with my teacher reflection hat on would be having 1 less session – by the 4th session students were getting a bit silly and tuckered out. We all know that feeling at an educamp!
I would also encourage better planning of what the teachers were going to do in their sessions. A couple flopped majorly due to no real plan. I actually thought this would happen, but let them try it out anyway, thinking they would learn from the failure more than from me hassling them to get a plan in place. And they did. They reflected and said they would definitely change it next time to be better planned.
Lastly, I would give the students more time in sessions. For this first educamp we just wanted to trial an afternoon to see if it could be done, but I think that ideally a day is really required for optimum fun and effectiveness.
I loved it though. This kind of experience is what I find invigorating about teaching and what I search for most as a teacher for myself and my students.