Today after school, a colleague, one of my favorite people at school, asked me for help. She wanted to push out a Google Slides presentation through Google Classroom that students would work on as a shared slide deck. Having given her the idea for the assignment, she wanted me to show her how to do it. She was nervous about not understanding what to do, worried that she wouldn’t remember how to post it, and worried that students would know more than she did. She wanted to be prepared. She wanted to feel like she had it all together before putting it out there.
In my old life (known as a couple of years ago), I felt like I couldn’t establish new routines or implement ideas unless I had it all figured out. Each step had to be carefully configured, planned. In my head it would need to be perfect before I could present any new assignments to my students. I could not let them know I didn’t have it mapped. So instead of starting a new “thing” that I knew in my heart would benefit students, I’d stall, or say, “Next semester,” or even “Next year.” Often it didn’t happen at all because, well, who has the time for masterminding every single thing? I certainly do not. I barely have time for this blog post.
Although a carefully masterminded plan is really great, I now allow students to help me in the planning. I allow them to decide how things should look, what may work best, and we simply do it. If it doesn’t work, we adjust. If they have suggestions I take them. The feedback they can provide is extremely valuable, and when they feel like they help in the planning they are more vested and motivated to work. Students appreciate when you ask for their advice. They want to help you. I used to think that I would appear like a weak teacher who didn’t know what she was doing. Ultimately, students just want to feel like they matter. They want you to hear them.
So now, when I’m trying something new and am not sure how it should go exactly, I propose my idea. The students and I sort it out together. I have deemed myself the “lead learner” in the class (a term I got from someone out there somewhere) and am honest that if there’s a better way to do something, we will do it. Often we have to adjust along the way, and I’m ok with that. So are the students.