I am a Responsive Classroom teacher. Sometimes that gets the reputation of being “touchy-feely”. However, anyone who knows me would not describe me or my teaching that way. I have high expectations for student behavior and work that coincides with one of the core principles of RC: the social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum. I feel that the #ETMOOC (that I am participating in) is really justifying that belief.
In last night’s #ETMOOC session “An Introduction to Rhizomatic Learning“, a thought by Dave Cormier rang true for me and all Responsive Classroom teachers: ‘ We need to make students responsible for their own learning (and the learning of others).’
Students have to take ownership. Today, there are so many opportunities to connect with people and make exchanges beyond the classroom walls. Knowing how to interact in this kind of online environment is crucial. Guidelines have to be established. A list of rules generated by the teachers/ adults are not going to keep students safe. Students taking responsibility will. But how will a student know what a responsible connected person looks like? From his/her role models, of course.
Tonight, I attended an #ETMOOC session on Becoming a Networked Educational Leader led by George Couros. The message was clear: if you want to understand social media, you have to use it yourself. And a very important part of using it yourself also is demonstrating character. Show students that you choose your words carefully in your tweets. Write blog posts the way that you would want students to blog, expressing thoughts with well thought out ideas and connections that invite conversation. Encourage by commenting on peers’ and students’ posts, giving detailed feedback and posing questions. In other words, walk the walk.
In Responsive Classroom, asking students to be active observers and participants in classroom role plays is called Interactive Modeling. By playing out scenarios and giving students an opportunity to practice situations, it gets them thinking about expected, respectful behaviors. From these observations and interactions, clear guidelines are defined with student input. Alas, we know that if students are a part of the process of rule making, then they will see the value and need for the rules. This is how we should be guiding students in social media, giving them opportunities to observe us as well as practice authentic online connections.
I want to close with a quote shown during Dean Shareski‘s #ETMOOC session from last week on sharing:
‘I wish we could stop using the word “accountable” and instead talk about “responsible”. It would make all the difference.’
What do you think?