Teach.com

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What A PBL Teacher Does on Vacation

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uofdlibrary/ 
     Today is the first day of my Spring Break and I am relaxing by watching NCAA Basketball, keeping tabs on SXSWi, thinking about how I will be mentoring a school doing a school-wide pbl, and planning my classes for when the break ends.

     There are teachers who will not do anything teaching related.  There are teachers who will travel and will not allow school to enter their minds.  And, there are teachers, like me, who other teachers will accuse of having no life.

     To me you can never really leave the classroom too far behind.  As a pbl teacher I am accustomed to reflecting on how projects are going and what, if anything, will need to change to make the learning successful.  And that's where I sit today.  The project I am leading in my freshmen class is not going exactly the way I wanted and we, for the first time, have a true client to report to.  But my students don't really have an understanding of what is required for this to be a success.

     In my junior class my students have checked out and are not focusing on what they need to do to be successful in their project.  The problem with this group of students is that they created the project.  They asked to do the project.  But they have not embraced actually doing the project and that needs to change.

     I teach two different classes with two unique problems.  My freshmen are in a class they are required to take and they will respond to whatever I ask of them with a minimum of resignation that the work has to happen.  My juniors are in an elective that all but one or two are in reluctantly.  They do not want to learn about  digital electronics and the maximum I can expect is the minimum needed to pass.

     I look at the coming week away from the classroom as a chance to regroup with both classes.  I will take the time to create new projects that can be launched as soon as needed after the break.  With my juniors I may decide that it means a total regroup immediately upon returning to class.  With my Freshmen I know that it will be a minimum of 2 weeks before I launch the next project but I can find ways to make the wrap up of this project go smoother.

    An additional element in my planning is that we are moving into the standardized test season.  I can expect tests during every week between the week we get back and the middle of May.  Some weeks will only effect the freshmen and some weeks will only effect the juniors.  Other weeks will effect both groups of students.  These testing breaks can really effect the flow of a project and must be planned for up-front.

     So I'm on Spring Break.  So what.  I've got a lot of work to do.  And the work I do this week will keep  the months of April and May that much more enjoyable.  I'll get my break in June.  Then I just have to start planning for the 2012-2013 school year.  Or should I start planning that now?