Are you new to Project Based Learning (PBL)? Are you wondering where to even begin? This was me not so long ago. In my personal experience, my PBL training was a very overwhelming process. I felt like my brain was on overload with all of the information being thrown at me. I remember going in with a project idea and leaving with the realization that my project was not quite a PBL unit, but not sure how to change it. If you are currently going through training and experiencing some of the same feelings, I have 3 questions that you can ask yourself to help you get started.
What makes a project truly great? Every year brings new project adventures with students, and sometimes we really nail it. Some projects are near misses, and others are abject flops. When it comes time to deconstruct project successes and failures, it is nice to have something upon which to look back, just to see if all of our grand visions materialized.
As the school year comes to an end, an important next step is to reflect on our year’s practices so we can celebrate our successes and consider what areas for growth we would like to tackle in the upcoming year. Through these reflections, we become stronger facilitators. One of the most important facets of my reflective practice is to consider how I built the culture of my classroom and how it developed throughout the school year.
Students have a lot fighting for their attention; from hormones to cell phones, many distractions can overwhelm their plan to pay attention in your class. Not only is focus a constant struggle, students are often hesitant to trust adults as beacons of knowledge. Some students see teachers as individuals who could not make it in the real world and other students view the teacher’s knowledge, in a very specific field, as beyond their abilities or beyond their level of need.
Can you remember the last time you had a real “ah-ha!” moment? I had one of those moments a little over a month ago. I was at a training session for coaches and administrators where we were discussing strategies for how to best coach teachers, specifically Math instructors, in project-based learning. As we moved through each day of the training the attendees became increasingly aware of their own comfort and discomfort levels with PBL.