George Courous has an amazing blog post about things that every classroom should have, and in reflecting on it, I realized how much of it my classroom does have.
Both of my brothers in law are programmers. Alex is amazing and works for Microsoft, Sam is amazing and is currently developing an app that allows musicians to find each other and jam or form a band. I always enjoy talking to them because I get to learn about the future, and it helps that they are talented, personable, and kind. They are the type of men I'd like my students to grow into, so I take stories from them and about them into my class. In fact, we just spent time Thursday going through a bunch of Microsoft prototype videos because The Future is part of my curriculum.
I was talking to Sam today and asking how his project was going.
"The last place I worked used an agile model so that's kinda what I'm following. Organize projects into sprints, track progress using OKRs and the like."
Being me, I opened a new tab and googled OKR. Turns out, it's pretty relevant to what educators call "Learning Objectives". You can read an excellent post about it on Kenton Kivestu's blog. In it, he summarizes what makes a good OKR and some common pitfalls that will spell disaster for your project. He mentions that good OKRs are measurable, focused, and worth doing. I want to go into why I think that's exactly how we should be structuring our classrooms.
Measurable- If we have set learning objectives but don't give our kids criteria for success, what is the point? How will we or they know when they've met the requirements? Now of course there are some projects (inquiry, I'm looking at you) that it's hard to set an endpoint because you (hopefully) don't know where you'll end up. On the other hand, there is always something you know you want out of a project, or you wouldn't have started it to begin with.
One point he makes is that not ever OKR needs to be explicitly quantitative, just as long as they are measurable.
Focused- Your OKR must be directly related to what you are trying to get done. You need a clearly defined mission that sets all your tasks. If your mission is "I will work on writing." then your OKRs will be conventions, form, style, etc.
A warning: "OKRs are like money. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. The surest way to negate any positive impact from a good OKR is to set 10 good OKRs." Isn't that true in education as well? If we set too many objectives for our students, how will they prioritize what they really need to focus on?
Worth Doing- There is pretty much nothing I hate more on this entire planet than to be asked to spend time doing hoop jumping, irrelevant, archaic, ridiculous things. I'll do them, (with a lot of grumbling), but I will be pushing back and asking why I'm spending my time on this. (Report card letter grades, I'm looking at you!)
Kenton uses an analogy of what would you put on a resumé, but in my class I constantly am asking why I am doing things, assigning tasks, requiring certain behaviours. Is it relevant to something in real life, is it for my comfort, is it for their safety, is it about following school culture rules, or is it something we can ditch?
So I guess I have new presentation proposal material. Now I just need to find a conference to present it at!
I'm in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School district for my final 8 weeks of practicum. It's been an absolute thrill to have a sponsor teacher who I've known for several years now, and with whom I've had previous classroom experience.
We are in a 6/7 class in central Nanaimo, which is a great sandwich for my experience in a 7th grade (middle school) lower SES class, and a 6/7 (elementary school) in a very high SES class. At the end of this term I am really interested to see how SES can significantly (or not?) shape the role of education, the relationship between student and teacher, and the input of parents into the educational trajectories of their children.
Of course being in my final 8 weeks, I now can say that I'm looking forward to graduating and being in the job market. My final day of class is Friday May 6th, and then I'll be ready to jump into the game, and hopefully get my TRB clearance in enough time to start subbing before the year is out.
I have so many plans and ideas, I am refining some previously taught plans, and creating some totally new units (I'm looking at you, robotics!!). This will be a great time. The students are fantastic, my sponsor teacher (the phenomenal Jeremy Inscho) is beyond supportive, and my enthusiasm to be back in a classroom is contagious.
One other new thing is that this is the first time I'm not the only student teacher in the building! There are 3 other ST's here, and I'm looking forward to being able to collaborate, hangout, and spend time together. Building professional relationships is one of my focus' for this term, so I'm really looking forward to being able to start with my peers.
I respond to Sarah, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Smoore, Miss Sarah, (and sometimes Mom!). I have been an DL (homeschool!) teacher for 2 years and am now a proud member of the SD35 team!