I will go ahead and admit it…I was the teacher with the cute call-backs (macaroni and cheese, everybody freeze), the structure, the “do it my way” kind of teacher. I was that way for many years. My students knew how to behave and I was proud of it. Other teachers came to me for advice on classroom management. Things were going well.
Then, about a year or two ago, I began to really look at how I ran my classroom and asked myself if I would want to be a student in my class. Would I want my life run to the last minute of the day with little to no time for choice? The answer was a resounding “no”.
George Couros presents an interesting idea in Chapter 6 of “The Innovator’s Mindset”. He says “Power is about what you can control. Freedom is about what you can unleash.” What a mindset shift! I began to think about my students in a completely different light. What could I unleash in them if I gave up my need for compliance?
I found the answer last year when I implemented Genius Hour with my 2nd grade class. Even though it was merely an hour out of the whole week, the kids learned so much in that short amount of time! They were collaborating, creating, curating, sharing, thinking critically, and communicating about a project they were passionate about. It still related to the curriculum, but the experience was so much more powerful because the kids were empowered to learn and create on their own. They were unleashed.