Am I setting my students up for failure or success?

Not long ago, I was asked if I was setting my students up for failure in High School. I was asked this because my students have become used to learning with a certain amount of flexibility – A flexibility that may not be available to them when they enter Secondary School in a couple of years.

My students are encouraged to use a variety of resources and tools including daily blogging and podcasting. Throughout all subjects, these students use cameras, video cameras, podcasters, smartboards, laptops and handhelp devices as tools for learning, including a variety of web 2.0 applications. Students write and rewrite and rewrite again several times a day until they feel their writing is “good enough” for publishing and then – they publish their work on the world wide web. They do this because they think this is good modeling for other students. My students share their work through applications like Google Docs and edit each others work, never questioning if this is “cheating”. They help each other to feel successful. They are teachers.

My students learn by working through problems and projects and usually start the week with two or three “big idea’s” in which they are required to discuss and collaborate. Rarely are my students faced with a requirement to regurgitate information and instead are encouraged to think deeply about the information that they are reading or discussing. The classroom is centered around them.

My students know quite well that they are accountable for their own education. It is this driving force and belief that continues to make them successful, regardless of their level and ability because they know that each one of them is bringing with them something incredibly special and worthwhile. I want the students in my class to learn because they want to learn.

So, to answer the question – Am I setting them up for failure – Absolutely NOT. These students are learning how to learn and to take responsibly for their learning. These students are becoming more resourceful and have a true belief that what they say matters. These students believe in collaboration and practise it everyday when they read each others blogs or talk to partner classrooms from around the world through video conferences.

My only hope is that by the time these students reach Secondary School, their teachers and leaders are also practicing and modelling true collaboration also. I hope that my students educators trust them enough to let them work at their level and their own learning style. I hope that they are given the autonomy to learn from experts from outside their classroom walls and to be leaders themselves by teaching and collaborating with each other.
I hope their teachers are willing to learn new teaching methods – ones that are more familiar to the students, rather than themselves.

My students were asked what their VISION of Secondary school is. Let’s read what students have to say HERE

PODCAST by Elementary Students –  Vision of High School

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3 Replies to “Am I setting my students up for failure or success?”

  1. Hey Zoe.

    I’ve heard folks “worry” about their students future learning opportunities before — whenever a good teacher explores a innovative teaching methodology or structures their classroom in a non-standard manner. (Heck, I recall wrestling with the arranging of my students in groups for cooperative learning opportunities a couple decades ago — they learned to work with it, and I’m sure the skills were transferred forward, regardless of the next year’s seating arrangements.)

    Just as students are fairly resilient in their learning over the course of their careers (adapting to different teachers and teaching styles/methods — this is one of the strengths of our current system — diversity), we must have confidence that the key skills we work to instil in students over the course of our time with them will stick and serve them in good stead as they move forward.

    One would hope that the work you are doing with your students will serve to empower them, give them voice and advocacy as learners as they move on up to secondary school. I would anticipate that the skills they learn with you will enable them to make and share meaning with one another (and others outside of their “school”).

    It would make for an interesting study, wouldn’t it?

  2. Hey Mrs. Pipe,
    I don’t think your setting us up for failure. You’re giving us chances and oportunities to get new ideas and work on group and team work.
    Some people would say you were setting us up failure but that’s just because we don’t get to choose how we do our lessons, or if we colaborate or not in high school. If we got to do that in high schools, I think every teacher in the world would be teaching the way you do.
    You let us have a say in things, most teachers don’t. It helps us more than anyone could imagine. I’ve sat there not understanding a question or having no ideas. The colaboration really helps.
    Keep on teaching the way you want, just remember to let the students give a say.

    By Allison 213, a 6th grade student

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