On January 27, 2017, I had the privilege of spending the day with several faculty members at Doña Ana Community College in Las Cruces, New Mexico, facilitating an edtech workshop entitled "Turn It App a Notch: Tools for a More Engaging iPad Educational Experience," and the richness of the conversations was mind-blowing!
Within the first minutes of the workshop, we began a conversation focused on what participants needed from me, the facilitator, and each other - essentially, their classmates - during the course of the workshop to make it a positive and productive experience for them.
And I want to pause now, and ask that you notice this breaking of patterns. Think back to the last time you attended a workshop; it is quite possible the facilitator had already reached conclusions about the participants' needs without actually gaining their input. Now, you might think "Bridgett, is that not ambitious and a bit challenging for the facilitator to wait until the actual workshop to get this information and then authentically and sincerely act upon it right there in front of a live audience?"
Yes, it can seem like a heavy weight on the shoulders and a high level of accountability; however, when you invite participants to make such a list, you show you care, and when you show you care, it makes it easier to accommodate the list of needs. Really! It does. It turns the workshop in to a conversation ... into an experience that makes everyone feel his/her interests and needs are in mind. And it feels SO GOOD to immediately hear participants' voices because the workshop is about them! It feels like standing back and gliding brush strokes of colors onto a blank canvas without worries of restricting borders or having to follow a set pattern!
Now back to the experience and how we REALLY discovered what it means to break some patterns in the classroom ...
I combined my pre-determined list with the participants' combined list of what they needed in order to have a beneficial learning experience in the workshop, and the amazing revelation at which we arrived was ...
... our students need the exact same conditions in place in order to also be engaged and productive!
Here is a portion of the list from the workshop participants:
And one workshop participant added at the conclusion of our discussion, that for the most part, "Our students need the exact same things!" LOVE IT!
Students oftentimes arrive in class expecting to hear a lecture, possibly engage in an activity or two, then receive a homework assignment. Break the pattern of what their brains expect by making it interactive/hands on, avoiding humiliation of anyone for any reason, being enthusiastic, ensuring they feel like they can have some success in learning ... (And check back often because my goal is to provide more links to resources that can help you achieve those 15 items; I hope you understand it was more important that I first got the list to you!)
I invite you to write back and share with us what you do or what online resources you use to meet the aforementioned needs of students (or workshop participants) and break the pattern of what their brains expect!