I started my journey in out -of-school time (OST) learning in January 2011 when I started working at the John Boner Neighborhood Centers (JBNC), but it wasn’t initially where I thought I would end up. I graduated two years earlier from Indiana University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s of Science in elementary education. I always knew I wanted to teach and work with students. At the time, I thought that meant I wanted to become a classroom teacher in the public school system. That was really all I knew.
There is a balance between teachers teaching what is required and empowering students to drive their own learning. In fact, it can be one of the scariest parts of starting PBL in your classroom. However, this is where you have to make sure your project design and facilitation skills are on point. Think of the project as a play. Anyone who has ever been to a play knows that there is just as much going on behind the curtain as in front of it.
For the past several years, I have co- facilitated a course at Columbus Signature Academy New Tech High School along with a English/ Language Arts facilitator, Veronica Buckler. Note the word choice: facilitated, not taught. The two are not quite the same. Veronica has become a dear friend whose intellect and respect for sound Project-Based Learning practice I will value forever.
From the time we first learn to communicate we ask why. Human minds are naturally driven by wonder and curiosity. My four year old daughter wants to know the “why” behind EVERYTHING! I’ve heard many people say the same thing about their young kids, but then at some point, as we age, this questioning stops. I don’t think it stops because we’ve become less curious, I think it stops because we learn that when we ask why it often gets pushed aside and replaced with a what or some type of statement that “this is just how it is” and so we stop asking, but we don’t stop wondering. Many of us even spend our lives searching for our “why” and a few of us are lucky enough to find that in our careers.