This is my tenth year of teaching. I have felt an unfamiliar and lingering weight during the first two months in my classroom this fall. I was unable to point my finger on the source of this new lack of ease, until our EC831 class introduced the term Genius Hour into my vocabulary. I looked into the story behind Genius Hour (“where passions come to life”, Genius Hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom), and some of the reasons for this heaviness started to defrost. While I’m still working through the challenges, at least I am beginning to see a little more clearly.
Our school division has implemented significant changes this year. We have moved to strictly outcome-based assessment. This is a definite shift in how we approach learning and assessment. While I agree that it is a move in the right direction, it is certainly taking time to become comfortable and confident. It is an obvious positive that we are tying our learning directly to outcomes. I think it brings greater focus and intentionality into our teaching. At the same time, I find myself obsessing over those little boxes. When I plan for learning in my classroom, my primary objective has not been to inspire passionate learners but to check off outcomes. And that is drying me up.
The opening of the Parent Portal adds to the pressure. This allows parents to follow their son or daughter’s progress online. I love the Parent Portal- in most ways. It brings transparency and accountability for students, teachers and parents. At the same time, I have felt a real pressure (mostly stemming from my own expectations) to update frequently and make sure that I’m on target with meeting outcomes because it’s “live” for everyone to see.
When Alec mentioned Genius Hour, and Sylvia introduced me to the Maker Movement, it became clear to me that I needed to find a fresh balance in my teaching. I love teaching, and I love being excited about what I am teaching. I long to bring enthusiasm and passion into what I do, and I want to instill an authentic love for learning in my students. I love that initiatives like Genius Hour and the Maker Movement pour fresh fuel onto the fire!
My challenge now is finding a good rhythm and balance in my classroom, where I am both meeting outcomes (and not obsessing over them) and also cultivating a passion-driven learning environment. One specific wondering regarding Genius Hour is the seeming frequent lack of assessment involved. From many of the blogs I have read, teachers are not often assessing the learning in Genius Hour. I see the benefits here (learning for the sake of learning!), but I’m not sure how to make that fit into the balance!
If you are teaching in RPS, how are you finding the shift in assessment and reporting? How are you finding a balance?
Thanks for sharing in some of the defrosting and fueling process…
A couple practical and related links to explore:
Wonderopolis– “Where the wonders of learning never cease!” Wonderopolis (don’t you just love the name?!) gives daily prompts for wondering and could be a simple and effect starting point for wondering!
Step by Step Directions for Creating Passion Projects in the Classroom– Yep, I mentioned the word practical! I am appreciative of Paul Solarz’ work in laying out some ideas for getting started with passion projects.