Posted in 20 Time, educational leadership, Genius Hour, teaching

Where’s the Grand Finale?!?

We started our Genius Hour presentations last week, and, honestly, I was kind of…disappointed. Some were flat. Some were messy. Some were just…there. After 8 weeks of passion based learning I was ready for an explosion of excitement and student driven learning. What I got instead was small bits of information and a huge Q and A session. Did I not model a presentation? (probably not enough…) Did we not evaluate the rubric together? (maybe it was too much…) Did we need more check in days? (maybe this wasn’t enough…) What could I have done better? Read more articles? Reach out to my PLN and coach? Ugh…
As teachers, we practice the art of self reflection, and most of us can turn this quickly into the art of self-loathing if we are not careful. I am no exception, for sure.
Each passing week, one little piece of something I wanted to control slipped away–the biggest being time, it just ran out way too soon. Now I am not one who needs to be in control of much, but when it comes to keeping things in order for kids, of course I want to excel. I felt that them running out of time was a complete fail on my part. Maybe I shouldn’t have jumped in…? But, again, this is learning. And it is messy. And sometimes we change it in the middle when it doesn’t work. And we talk about what we learned. And we move on ahead. Right? Right! I reflected on our first weeks together, on what GH really means, on Joy Kirr’s post to me welcoming me to the “messy learning”. I knew way back then it wouldn’t be perfect.
That being said many of my kids had to stop in the middle of some big plans
and teach us what they had learned so far because the end of the year is days away. And they stopped creating their hotels for the homeless, their stop motion videos, their comic books, their robots, and their family trees to make their final presentations.
Their presentations really didn’t set off the fireworks. They were pretty plain compared to the amazing things they have done with tech this year, hence my disappointment. That, coupled with the time management just had me ready to throw in the GH towel. (Oh, I can’t believe I actually put those words in print…)

But when I stopped thinking about myself for just a minute and watched my kids, I got a different perspective. See, their classmates weren’t satisfied with just a little bit of knowledge. They asked questions, then asked more, then more. I watched the mutual respect and admiration that I have grown to love and admire from this group spread like wildfire as they asked questions of the “expert”. “Really, who knows more about Lego stop motion videos than you guys anyway? No one else in 4th grade…” Directly from the mouth of one of my boys. Well said. They understood the power of what had happened. They knew that someone had learned something awesome about a subject unique to them, that only they could share it with us, that only they were the expert in our class. Now we were not just a class of mathematicians, writers, and readers but biologists, computer programmers, architects, film makers, bakers, and so much more.

So while I am back there with my clipboard sweating the rubric, beating myself up, and wondering why they didn’t listen to me, they are up there in the floor, listening to their peers, speaking encouraging words, and learning from each other.

And yes, I will be returning for the crazy, messy, fun learning known as Genius Hour! 🙂