The Art of Possiblity: Creating More Successful Learners

Anne Smith

Anne Smith photo"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. " -Alvin Toffler

The Alliance for Excellent Education (2008) and Linda Darling Hammond (2008) both encourage the transformation of traditional classrooms by focusing on reshaping the classroom environment, recasting the role of a teacher and his/her instruction, and increasing student motivation. Students succeed in learning environments that are open, motivating and engaging where students and teachers are working together in successful partnerships (Jones, 2008) (Tapola & Niemivirta, 2008). As the teacher, I wanted to remove the option of failure and find a way to use feedback to improve student perfomance. First, beginning with the premise that all students want to be successful, I focused on cycles of change in student assesment. These cycles, which continued all year, involved eliminating D's, having my students create thier own assessment rubric, and giving them mulitple opportunities to demonstrate their learning and understanding. Midyear, I was engaged in mentoring a student-teacher using effective student feedback as the basis of professional dialogue.

The action research process helped me, as the teacher, to be a better mentor, teacher and leader. The change in the students, student teacher, and myself evolved as we moved away from our traditional roles. Action research gave us the permission to try something new, to challenge assumptions, and changed the student-teacher dynamic. Students appreciated seeing their teachers engaged in continous learning. The change in the relationships encouraged students to work harder.

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