Learn Like a Pirate - Common Concerns
This second chapter of Learn Like a Pirate, by Paul Solarz, dispells any concerns you may have about making the transition to a student-led classroom. Yes, it may not be smooth sailing at the very start, but "handling challenges that arise in a student-led classroom is better than dealing with a lack of motivation, poor behavior, and student apathy any day!"
Paul starts out by addressing concerns such as "worried about giving up control", "afraid to make mistakes", "it will be too much work or too time-consuming", "the classroom will be too loud and chaotic", "I won't be able to ensure all the curriculum is taught", "my students won't be able to handle it", and more. I'm sure at least one of these resonates with you. For me, worrying about ensuring all the curriculum is covered, and wondering how some of my students who face challenges will cope are at the top of the list.
Paul discusses each concern, validating why teachers may feel that way, but then goes on to challenge the concern by reminding you why you and your students CAN do this. I will be able to still fit in all the demands of my curriculum because I still plan for the learning that happens daily - I lay out the curriculum and the students become responsible for the learning (and when the motivation is increased, the students will be able to take on the learning (and go past what is expected) much quicker. And my students WILL be able to do this, because it will be the expectation - students rise to high expectations (which is something I truly believe). "Raise the bar" is a daily utterance in my room (and after the first month or so, it is often heard coming from my students' mouths more than my own). My concerns aren't about behaviour - it's the learning challenges some of my students face that had me more worried. But the more I read, the more I'm convinced that WE'LL be able to meet the challenge by allowing me more time to work with these students in smaller groups or individually, because I won't be spending as much time delivering and directing (and controlling) the whole group learning.
Paul ends this chapter with laying out the benefits of a student-led classroom, and reading through these really helps erase all those doubts. And even if your doubts still linger, you'll be so persuaded by the benefits that you'll just have to give it a go. Reading through these really started to make my mind spin (and spin in a good way). :) Even as I sat for HOURS at the orthodontist office today (my two oldest girls got braces today ... sniff), my mind was racing with ideas ... which was a great thing. And those benefits are directly correlated to the concerns - the main benefits being increased student retention and allowing more time for student feedback. Hello! I want this.
I'm convinced ... and excited ... and I couldn't wait to dive into the next chapter already (remember - HOURS at the orthodontist today) - peer collaboration - one of my absolute favourite strategies in the classroom. Sail on, book buddies. :)