A term and a half into the course now and the projects are still too teacher led for a number of reasons:
- We have had to manage the change, by directing both the teachers and the students through the structure of the project. The projects up to now have to some extent directed the teaches every step of the way.
- We have tended to run the seminars for a half year group all at the same time. This has meant that the students all go to seminars from their class all at the same time and then all go back to class together. Easier to manage, but not in the spirit of the course. It does not allow the opportunity for independence.
- Although we have encouraged teachers to focus on the process, it is my belief (through daily observation) that the majority of teachers are still focusing on the outcome. The way we have structured the projects means that there is a race to complete milestones and products by each deadline.
- This leads onto another point - students don't really have independence in planning as so much is mapped out for them
- Perhaps the biggest reason teachers tend to lead is that it is what they are used to doing elsewhere in other subjects.
This all sounds a bit negative, but in actual fact, the course is really beginning to have an impact on learning. Surveys show that the students really enjoy the programme and are really beginning to take their learning seriously. The impact across the school at this stage is harder to measure at this stage, but some staff do report that some of the habits they are developing in the course are transferring.
So what are we doing to encourage teachers to take on a greater facilitation role, allowing the students more Independence?
- The next project will give each teacher an individual timetable where they will either: hold a group session (to consolidate, host a discussion, encourage the sharing of good practice); take a seminar, cover someone else so that they can take a seminar; supervise students carrying our research, reflection or group work (often large groups); hold a tutorial for an individual or team.
- Seminars will be at different times allowing students the opportunity to choose when they want to go
- We will video seminars and make them available on line in order to allow students to look at these again or attend the seminar in their own time
- Involve a group of students in the planning of this project in order to create more resources. This will happen from now on in each project.
Finally, we haven't really got the graduation stages working well yet. Hopefully the new projects will give the teachers more opportunity to allow studetns capable of working at higher stages, the opportunity to fly.