Courage. Failure. Shame. Vulnerability.
Listening to Brene Brown is always thought-provoking. It reminds me that stripping the classroom to basic human need and interaction is necessary. That teaching some sort of social emotional lessons are vital. In Studio 4, we are grateful to have the first and last period of the day set aside to be with the homeroom teacher. We all know in our hearts that this is the best situation for students. But some schools do not make this a priority when creating timetables. Our school is large, and we are very thankful that this timetabling has been carefully organised for us.
In Studio 4, we call this time "C.A.R. Time." C.A.R. stands for Choose, Act, Reflect - the Action Cycle which is outlined by the IBO in Making the PYP Happen. These times not only allow for meaningful planning and reflection to happen in a timely manner, but also create space for us to connect with our classes. Since Studio 4 have the opportunity to learn from many experts and teachers, these times are precious.
I am now thinking about how I can infuse the words of Brene Brown into these times a little more.
ISHCMC teachers are possibly the most courageous teachers I have ever worked with. They are not afraid to talk about "what if..." or "why" of an activity or a new idea. How can I create this same environment for my students? It makes me wonder if some tasks are still too structured, even if the "how" is open. Does having an end point, or a backwards designed unit even, create too much of a non-risk-taking environment? I have had these thoughts before, which you can read here if you are interested.
I have noticed during my time in Vietnam, that even though my students are at a fairly progressive school, they are afraid to fail. They are afraid to have nothing on their page in a pre-assessment. They are afraid to get an answer wrong. They are afraid to show their work, and most times will only show me their final answer/product. I am not positive about where this comes from, but a lot of them do go to after school learning centers with very different pedagogies than ISHCMC. How can we work even harder to break these barriers? We definitely try. Could using design thinking help us with this? Applying cyclical understanding to multiple subjects, including ones that are a little more cut and dry, like math? Do "final" post assessments hinder this cyclical process? hmmm....
In C.A.R. Time, choice words is something that often comes up. Choice words is one of our pillars from Cultures of Achievement that we use school-wide. It is important that students understand that this really also applies to self-talk. The words you choose to say and think about yourself affect who you are as a person, and how you behave with others. Even though this comes up a lot, and the students know what to say as "the right answer" when we are talking about this... how deep is this understanding? Are they actually putting this into action or are they just talking about it?
One quote this reminds me of is "no secret teacher business" from the origins of Studio 5. It may not link 100% but it definitely makes me think about it. Being vulnerable and open with students is important. It is their learning - can we model vulnerability by showing them that sometimes we are unsure? That sometimes we don't agree with the things we need to do, but we need to do them anyways? That sometimes we are taking risks, and if we need to pivot, we will? My hope is that by speaking these thought processes out loud with students, we are modeling vulnerability. We don't always have the answers. We don't always know where things will lead. We might fail.
My hope is that C.A.R. Time is a time for deep reflection - both about students' learning and social-emotional needs. My hope is that by learning about these concepts, they will become better humans moving forward into the future. More confident. More courageous. More vulnerable. Failing more. And learning to grow from all of these experiences.