Friday, February 03, 2017

Inspiring Our Students

How do we engage students?  How do we integrate subjects make to learning contextual and relevant for kids? How can we create positive and flexible learning environments? The answers may seem simple, but the implementation is much more difficult and takes time! A few areas that can make a significant difference when considering a highly effective and innovative team PLC include structures created to help the PLC be successful, the classroom environment, and the learning experiences designed by teachers.

Structures: The structures put in place can make a huge difference in the way the team PLC is able to meet the needs of all students with effective instructional practices.  Blocking core classes together allows more flexibility to implement effective PBLs. Moving through the day with no bells, creates an environment for students and teachers to use time creatively and more efficiently. Additionally, specialists pushing into the team area and the classroom allows for students to receive services without missing instructional time in the classroom with peers.

Now, let's hear from the students and teachers from team Inspire at HMS on what makes a highly effective and innovative team PLC!

When teachers were asked, "How do you create a positive learning environment for students?" They said the following:
- Care about the students personally.
- Build relationships with kids.
- Belief that we are all responsible for all kids - they are our kids.
- Provide effective interventions - all students get what they need (focus groups).
- Practice mindfulness.
- Offer students flexible seating options.

Students were then asked "How do your teachers created a positive learning environment? This is what they said: 
- The teachers have positive attitudes and are nice.
- They try to make it better if you do something wrong rather than us getting in trouble.
- Teachers make time for students.
- Teachers use humor.
- Flexible seating and choice of where to sit is important.
- Teachers let us do fun, hands-on stuff.
- Teachers creatively help students learn.
- Teachers create fun team activities and us give choices.

Teachers were also asked "how do you engage your students in learning experiences?" This is what they said:
hands-on activities
- Use humor.
- Provide lots of movement.
- Give kids leadership and collaboration opportunities.
- Offer students voice and choice in activities and PBLs.
- Work to connect the standards and topics in different subjects and create authentic PBLs.
- Engage in professional learning - book study on differentiation, learning around flexibly seating,        assessment academy, etc.
- Make intentional connections between the subjects.

Students were asked, "What has engaged you in your learning this year?" These are some of the responses:
- Hands-on activities.
- Videos to help me learn visually.
- Opportunities to choose to work individually or with a group.
- Flexible seating options given by all the teachers.
- Teachers help us learn creatively and connect subjects.

There you have it!  The teachers and students agree on what makes a highly effective and innovative team PLC. For those wanting to move in this direction, just try something and have a growth mindset!!

Tabby Rabenberg

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