A month ago I was approached by a middle school principal who was interested in having a philosophical conversation with her staff about transformational ideas for changing teaching and learning. She started with a few what ifs and asked me if I could find or come up with more what ifs for her staff to discuss. I thought I would share this list with others to provoke discussion and hopefully some action.
What if learning must be based on each student’s interests and needs?
What if our students’ growth and abilities must be measured by the quality of their work and how it changes them?
What if our school board decreed that each and every student had to complete and be proficient with assessments a year after the course was completed? How would that change the way we teach and assess?
What if we eliminated subjects and particular technologies and instead focused on universal cognitive processes?
What if our students decided how they wanted to show their understanding?
What if our students regarded the “iPad or another electronic device” like a pencil … not as an extra tool?
What if our curriculum had to be relevant to each student and allow him/her to do real work for the real world?
What if we taught in topics (as Finland is beginning to do) and not in subjects?
What if we weren’t the ones that provided feedback to our students on their work?
What if we developed curriculum that our students learned through interdisciplinary teams?
What if we provided internships/apprenticeships for our students?
What if our curriculum was transparent including rubrics to assess learning and students showed their understanding of learning using any and all experiences (4H, church, FFA, or just on their own, etc.)
What if our students demonstrated their learning through their passions?
What if we didn’t give grades?
What if our students each had a personalized learning plan? How would that change what and how we taught?
What if our students had to show proficiency on important concepts and practices before they moved to the next unit, grade?
What if our students co-designed learning opportunities with their teachers?
As the 2014-2015 school year comes to a close, What if a staff chose one of these to actually hack at before the next school year and started to make their what if into a reality for their students. Consider this challenge!