Teacher Perspective on Academy 21 Implementation
[Written by Justin Bedell with Laurie Plante as a contributing author]
One of the biggest challenges to implementing Academy 21 has been changing from a paradigm of teacher-driven student-centered learning to the current model/paradigm of student-driven, student-centered learning. A second challenge of a larger magnitude has been students changing the same paradigms. This fact alone demonstrates how deeply ingrained the teacher-driven culture of learning truly is in both students AND teachers.
A reality is that all students have come into this 9th grade team having never experienced the flexibility of self-designed and self-managed learning. As a result, I have observed many students not utilizing class time effectively. This has caused the need to downshift from the curriculum and change focus to the habits and behaviors we all need in order to function effectively in a culture of learning where students perceive they have significantly more “freedom” than they did in previous classes and grades.
There is one other point that is worthy of discussion: I have noticed that many students truly appreciate engaging in learning in a classroom culture where they can plug in to their music, turn on their laptop, and settle in for an independent work session. In fact, many students communicate a strong sense of relief in having this opportunity and most are highly productive.
The strands of learning within the conceptual model of Academy 21 build student ownership of learning and are thus inherently good. My question is: is there a benefit to training both adults and students how to operate effectively in a model that creates the perception of “more freedom”? If so, what kind of training works, and when should participants engage in this?