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Episode 10 | Adventurous


 

Season Two | Episode 10

 

We still need kids to want to be teachers when they grow up.

That doesn't happen without engaging inspiration. Are your students stuck in a rut? Do they seem to lack the motivation to learn new things? If so, it might be time to encourage them to explore more adventurous learning opportunities.


Do you remember animal shows growing up?


Shows like The Crocodile Hunter with Steve Irwin (RIP) take you on an adventure of learning where you truly can't turn away. Although the world and the wild were the classrooms, I believe they would find a way to teach with that same level of excitement in the classroom. What if we created immersive experiences for students where they not only saw themselves but they saw possibilities?


You can't create adventurous free classrooms using systems of oppression and suppression.

I use to share my skydiving video with my students on the first day of school. It was a real-life example of me being scared out of my mind but having a competent adult there to support and teach me the ways made all the difference in the world.


I would tell them that this new year will be a whirlwind of new experiences, and they may feel nervous, anxious, scared, even...but I have done the work to be supportive of the growth through the adventure.This was our adventure to take together, and I was determined to make it a fun, engaging, and enjoyable one.

"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."— John A Shedd

Here are some tips for curating an adventurous teaching style and classroom environment:

1. Do One More

Sometimes the adventure is on the other side of one more. A chapter book is designed to end by chapter, but what if you read the first page of the next chapter? What if you did one problem from the next math lesson? This is engagement by design. Many kids have anxiousness about learning because of the unknown… so implementing this has two purposes.


2. Plan for Engagement and Exposure

This helps students get excited about what is to come and what to expect. For far too long in education have we operated and suppressed genius under I do, we do, you do, and close. One of the greatest practice shifts I ever made was including challenge questions on purpose in every lesson. Sometimes they were from the next lesson, sometimes from the next grade level above standard extensions.


Either way, they got a glimpse into where all this learning is going. When I did that, they were more free to ask questions, start their planning for how they would like to attack the learning, and we all contributed to those moments as a collective classroom community. Those were OUR moments to try something out together.


3. Venture out of your classroom and the curriculum books for ideas:

I will also add that having relationships with the next grade level than what you teach can save you a lot of time. There would be times when I would pop over and just ask what my students would need to know about a certain standard to be most successful when they got to them. Are there any strategies that I can preview with my student to prime the runway? Can I borrow some sample student work to show them the possibility of what they will be doing next? Do you have a few students that can come over and model a few problems?


4. Prioritize Choices

Choose your own adventure style of learning and intense, engaging problem-solving. Allow students to make a decision and stick with that choice, and exercise their executive functions to make it happen.

This can be done in various ways, such as giving them choices in assignments, allowing them to work on projects that interest them, or incorporating elements of choice into your lesson plans. It is important to remember that not all students will be open to new adventures immediately and that you will need to merge and scaffold the familiar with the unknown to ease them into learning with choice.


5. Expand the Experience

To promote a growth mindset in your classroom, you can provide opportunities for students to struggle in their learning productively. Be sure to give praise that is specific and focused on effort, and help students to see mistakes as learning opportunities and not a deterrent to making more choices aligned to their interests and wonderings in the future.

Look out for definitive statements that kids make... "I am terrified of bugs." that is true. All bugs? Do you feel like there could be a different reaction to the ladybug and the wasp? Encourage deep critical thinking.


To have an adventurous classroom, trust must be built and maintained... That's what everything has in common... Trust! What if we engaged more with and planned for the emotions of the unknown in an effort to build trust?

 

You will find the Questions to Connections Guide for this episode on the word ADVENTUROUS here! If you are new here, check out our Path to Meaningful Connections resource!


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