November 1, 2012

Freedom to learn AND Freedom to work

It is my strong belief that students need as much freedom as they can possibly be given to explore their learning. But, I'm realizing that this freedom doesn't always look the way you would imagine it.

Most times when you think of freedom you see in your mind conversations, exploring new knowledge online, or through books, or through trial and error. You want students to try as many things as possible and fail as many times as necessary to achieve a goal. It's a spectacular thing.

However, this week I realized through observing my best teacher friend/co-worker/complaint sounding board, Jean, that sometimes freedom means having the right situation for productivity to happen.

If you think about a writer and their process it is both social AND anti-social. They need time to brainstorm topics, characters, settings, conflicts, etc. They need time to talk to other readers and writers and to see what new thoughts may develop from those conversations. But, they also need an appropriate time and environment to write.

You can't sit down and write when people are talking to you. If the rough ideas are already there, then you just need a quiet, non-distracting place to write.

Therefore, my classroom is silent today. My students are working on their stories and I'm realizing that they haven't received enough of this structured time.

Freedom to learn is INCREDIBLY important. But, now I'm realizing that so is the freedom to get work done - even if it's not what you thought it was.

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