9/14/2020 1 Comment
unschooling the teacher mindset
I worked as a teacher trainer for 4 years, and prior to that in an English Educational Department as a trainer for pre-service teachers. In those experiences, I was always frustrated by the lack of open mindedness and flexibility of the trainees to stop having such a ridiculously detailed agenda aka the 'lesson plan'. Lesson plans are like a recipe. If you haven't made the dish at all, it can be useful to use a recipe the first time in order to make the dish tasty. However, as you progress along in your cooking, you can add lib and make it up as you go along. If you cook without a recipe, you are inventing, you are creating, you are taking a risk, you are in the moment, you are trusting yourself. These are all of the elements that are also necessary when working with children.
1. Trust- trusting children to learn themselves isn't easy to do if you are used to planning a detailed lesson plan with a goal. Having a goal at the end of the lesson isn't allowing for creativity, imagination, invention, and the use of curiosity. When you trust the children and the flow of their play, you'll see that they come up with very interesting games, role-plays, and games that require no prior set up and there is no end goal. The kids just enjoy playing in the moment and they are then able to do what they do naturally, invent, be creative, and play.
2. Stop talking- don't talk. Even I would move yourself away from the students or children to give them the impression that they are alone. I usually sit on a fence nearby or above them on a hill so I can see them all. I don't even interfere right away if they are fighting. I let them sort it out on their own first. This isn't laziness, it's me observing their play, making sure they are safe, and being fascinated with their play. It's great, you should try it.
3. Responsiveness- responding is a way of mentoring. When you have no plan, you put yourself in a position to be passive and responsive to the children's needs. There is usually reactiveness in a planned classroom when students aren't on task or doing what they're supposed to so they fit the standard and the end goal. In a non planned atmosphere, your job is to respond to students interests, questions, or just general play. Easy.
4. Lastly, you need to be in the moment and think like a kid. I find, when I get really grounded and focus in the moment, I can really let the kids play, explore, and be curious about the world around them. I don't think about the past, or the future or how these even connect. I literally just observe what they are doing right now and then what they do next and so on and so on. Kids are in the moment intensely and they have a different sense of time. When you stop planning, you allow the present moment to occur and this is why kids enjoy it when you stop planning and be like them, enjoy the 'present'- it's a gift.
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I'm a teacher, outdoor educator, forest school practitioner and all round nature lover.