Recently, I've had chance conversations with a variety of people who have had interactions with my grade 7s over the past several weeks. A common theme is emerging about this class. The remarks are unsolicited and often finish with, "It's the culture in your classroom.|" Because I'm so immersed in the every day happenings in my class, I never really think about just how different we've become. We've made the shift to collaborative inquiry because research shows this is best practice. The long term benefit of working in this manner is now beginning to show.
Among the things that have been said to me:
There's something different about the grade 7s. They listen so well to each other.
Students who used to be at the office often in years past are no longer being sent to the office.
They are so willing to engage. They immediately form groups and jump into discussion.
There is no resistance when they are asked to explore a problem or begin solving a problem even if they don't yet really understand where they are going. This really surprised us. They just get into groups, grab paper and markers or chalk and begin.
(from a supply teacher) They just took care of themselves. They were fun.
From a teacher who had to cover my class on short notice and had no schema for the subject we were studying: I saw you were studying Quebec. All I could think of was Quebec separation. So I quickly formed them into groups, assigned points of view (First Nations, English, French) and asked them to consider if Quebec should separate from Canada. They immediately went to different boards grabbed chalk and began discussing and mapping their points of view. It's just how they've been trained to work. That's just what's normal in your class.
I am so proud of my students and also grateful to the many researchers, curriculum developers, members of my twitter PLN, responders to my blog, colleagues and mentors who've helped me reformulate my understanding of teaching and learning. This is the result!