Last week’s topic was open-networked learning. I thought I should post a promise statement to myself and to my students that I had started writing a few months ago. I changed a few things and added more. Here it is:
I used to think that as a teacher, I had to know everything about my subject and the topic that we were talking about in order to teach it. I avoided or dreaded topics in class that I did not feel that I understood well because I thought that I had to be an expert in order to effectively teach students. I even feared being asked questions that I did not know the answer to because then I would be letting everyone down. I was taught the correct things to say in class when students ask a question that I don’t know the answer to like “well that’s interesting” or “let’s google that” but we would never reach anything further than that.
I now think that I was never supposed to be an expert in the class and that I shouldn’t let my uncomfortable feelings hinder the learning of my students and myself. We can all learn together and grow together as we try to complete our projects together and reach our goals together. I promise to venture out and take risks with my students for their benefit and for my own benefit. My lack of knowledge should not hold back the possibilities for my students. I will let my students direct their own learning and give them more voice and choice. Even if I don’t know how to help them or don’t have all of the answers, we will figure it out together. Instead of being a “model teacher”, I will be a model learner for my students. I will model the learner that I want them to be.
I have to thank the Chemistry teacher, Andrew that I got to hear from and interact with this week. I was amazed by all of the different projects his students were doing and how much knowledge that he has. At one point, I asked him, “How do you know so much?” and he responded that he has learned along the way with his students. They learned together. When he began, he did not know all that he knows now. As a third year teacher, I would hope that in ten years, I too will know more than what I now know. If I give PBL a chance and embrace the inquisitive nature of my students and let them pursue their interests, we will learn together.