Microsoft in Education Global Forum, Dubai, 2...
Each year of the forum there seems to be an overall theme that a lot of teachers address, as pointed out by participants that have participated multiple years. In 2012 Global Collaboration was a popular theme and this year Service Based (including social justice) was seen in a lot of featured lessons. A common belief and attribute of the lessons and teachers I spoke with during the time in Barcelona was the invaluable aspect of student voice in the classroom.
The discussions really opened my mind to how to Student Voice center my class even more. A common theme in workshops was that teachers need to let go and let the students run with a concept. If our objectives and goals are based around Sustainability, we do not even need to define the term for our students. Give them the choice on how to research and define the term themselves, and then to decide what sustainability issues are most important to them. Do they all have to investigate the same issues? No. As teachers we guide the students to relevant issues and may have to redirect them occasionally, but still give them the opportunity to have a voice.
As teachers we provide a skeleton of requirements, a general rubric, and guide them to discovery of topics. By doing this the pedagogy is meaningful to each student, they take ownership, and value their learning at a level we cannot measure. It is time for us as teachers to let go and let the students take the reigns of their learning, we us being the guide by the side. It is okay for them to fail, we help them get up, brush themselves off and then get back to work.