What to Do with those Wonderings
How to cultivate curiosity in the classroom.
In order to empower curious learners, teachers need to design learning experiences where their students can explore, tinker, delight in information of their choosing, ask questions, and connect with peers. But, in order to do this, teachers need to put student capacity over student compliance.
And that’s scary.
Giving your students the space to chase their passions, outline goals and prioritize tasks sounds fantastic in theory. We are forgetting that teachers are responsible for the development of their students. Asking them to pass on the controls brings about a number of fears. A number of wonderings. Can my students actually self-regulate and self-manage? Will they be motivated if I’m not telling them specifically what they have to achieve and when they have to achieve it by?
Making the shift from a step-by-step lesson plan with a 100% success rate to something “student-centered” feels like a rather lofty, flakey, fluffy move. The thought of letting students lead the way with their “wonderings” can come across as one lazy teacher and thirty aimless learners to a principal or parent.
It’s going to be loud.
It’s going to be messy.
You don’t know what the outcome will be.
You don’t know if or how it will align with standards.
It’s a total gamble.
Yet, in practice, student-centered learning breeds responsible, motivated and focused students. Why? Because students care deeply about what they are doing. After all, they chose it. Classroom management becomes more about noise and safety and less about keeping students on-task or engaged. Students meet more standards because the span and depth of their work covers a wide-range of skills. Their interests lead to research, which leads to a curation of ideas and designs, which then leads to collaboration and showcasing of their work. Your students are developing a growth mindset and therefore, are learning to be prepared for anything. They’re witnessing their true potential and you get to see it to.
Here’s something to help foster curiosity in the classroom. It’s a simple, yet effective prompt that can be used as a pipeline to design further student-centered experiences with your students.