Who does the following tasks in your classroom:
- Plans daily lessons
- Teaches or facilitates each lesson
- Designs projects
- Troubleshoots technology hiccups
- Assesses student work
- Communicates with parents about student progress
If the answer to most of these questions is you, the teacher, then you’ve already realized you are doing the lion’s share of the work in your classroom. I think this is fairly normal. Teachers have classically done all of these things to keep a classroom operating smoothly. It’s no wonder most teachers are exhausted.
I’d argue that students should be doing the majority of the work in the classroom. Of course, the teacher’s role in designing curriculum and establishing norms is key, especially at the beginning of the year. But I think teachers, in general, try to do too much and don’t expect their students to do enough.
In the last three years, I’ve made a conscious decision to pass many of these responsibilities onto my students. My decision was not motivated by laziness or my inability to do these tasks, but rather I wanted my students to take more ownership over their learning. They are incredibly creative human beings with myriad talents. Why not tap into them as resources and make them do some of the planning, teaching, troubleshooting, assessing, and communicating with parents?
My students plan lessons and units, teach their peers about complex topics in station rotation lessons, design their own projects rooted in their passions, provide each other with tech support as needed, assess their own work on a weekly basis and articulate what grades they believe they deserve in our class. My students have even designed and led parent technology trainings to help their parents get up to speed on some of the technology tools we are using.
The more I let go and allow my students to drive the learning, the more rewarding and less exhausting my job is. My students are more motivated to learn because they play an active role in defining what that learning looks like.
So, for those teachers who feel disillusioned and exhausted by this challenging profession, how can you shift the work from you to them?