I’m an Expert Learner

That sentence might sound like quite an egotistical statement. I’m an expert learner. At first glance it seems like I’m saying I’m an expert, but that’s not my intent. I’m an expert at learning – meaning I’m really good at knowing when and where I need to learn more. That also means that I mess up a lot. 

This week’s mess up in regards to my AP class. I’ve been doing the heavy cognitive lift. I’ve used all the resources – the College Board, the exemplars, the calendar, the standards, the material knowledge – and I’ve synthesized all of it and deconstructed it into a pathway for students to find success. Except in all honesty, most kids haven’t found success – when success is identified as qualifying scores or even in terms of enjoying the course. And in the past 2 years of teaching this course around this time of year the students start to get grumbly, frustrated, hit a wall, and really break down. And I get equally frustrated. The first year, I pushed through that wall and kept to my schedule fully knowing I was losing students left and right in a variety of ways. Last year, I neglected my schedule again losing students.

I’ve been looking hard at the UDL Progression Rubric – trying hard to set up the environment where students can be empowered into being an expert learner themselves. And look at the difference in the three stages. Screen Shot 2018-11-12 at 1.45.04 PM

What I’ve been doing is offering some options within how they will learn and express what they know. I can even say that I’ve even been encouraging students to choose from multiple options to determine what they learn, how they learn, and express what they know. But what I need to be doing is really empowering students to make or SUGGEST alternatives.

So this is where I’m learning.. where I’m the expert in learning.

Tomorrow I’m going to put a pause on the class. Instead of pushing through or stopping all together, I’m going to pause. AND LISTEN. And allow the students to really see all the information and have them come into their own understanding and create their own goals.

How will you do this? (I hear you.. I mean goodness, I’m asking this myself)

First, I’m going to give them all the information: the College Board info (you know, those shiny pretty handouts they send); the Rubric and the indicators; Exemplars; the Calendar; the NCAS Standards; the Digital Resources (like the Class website, slideshows, etc.); the Artistic Thinking Process and components; list of assignments. Then we are going to go through the artifacts and use the VTS questions – What’s going on with these artifacts? What makes you say that? What more can you find? Then using the Essential Questions from the NCAS – have those as framing questions around each area of artifacts.

Then, after students have discussed and uncovered all sorts of things… and this is where I’m unsure of what EXACTLY is going to happen because I know that they will come up with things I can’t even imagine yet… they are going to come up with their own individualized plan for reaching the goal of completing their breadth portion by Winter Break. I want them to think of each portion of it – grading, feedback, how they’ll learn, how they’ll get ideas, how they’ll get outside of the vacuum of their brain and experiences – and how they’ll create their own structure of accountability within the class themselves.

I’m nervous AND I know that this is absolutely necessary for students to not only own their learning, but also feel purposeful and motivated in each step of this rigorous and difficult process.

I’m positive that this will be messy this week and I’m going to be gentle with myself and with them since I’m unsure of what it’ll turn out to be. But I know that taking this time right now will actually help them move forward successfully.

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