Teaching-Learning Teams

Students and the teacher come together to share feedback and ideas related to what's happening in the classroom.

Photo of Samantha Wette
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At Teaching-Learning Team (TLT) is a low-stakes way for students to have a strong voice in their science classroom. TLTs are based on the premise that regardless of one's status as a teacher or student, everyone is both a learner and a teacher in the science classroom.

A small group of students representing diverse social and academic realms join the teacher for a (twice-?)monthly lunch to discuss issues related to that teacher's class. The meeting is non-hierarchical; the teacher is an equal participant and not the authority on how the meeting is run. Both students and the teacher share their thoughts and concerns about issues that have been arising in class--whether they are related to class climate or academics.

The TLT also comes together to plan units and lessons. This is aimed to make science content more relevant, accessible, and interesting to students. Teachers spend hours trying to brainstorm what students want - why not ask the students themselves? Further, why not ask students to help make it themselves?

Ultimately, the TLT promotes both a dialogue between students and teachers. At its core is a creation-feedback cycle where students both have voice in what they are learning and are also responsible for helping to implement the changes they want to see.

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Photo of Alysha English
Team

Samantha, this is great!! How are the student representatives selected? I love that there's also some leadership built into this idea and that it becomes an opportunity for dialogue between students and teachers.

Photo of Dalton McCurdy
Team

This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing; I really like the idea of creating an open-dialogue loop between teachers and students. After the TLT meetings is feedback/reflection from the discussions shared back with the rest of the class or is it just used to plan future curriculum and grow class culture? Also, do the students on involved in the meetings ever change or rotate?

Photo of Samantha Wette
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Dalton McCurdy I was planning to focus on using the meetings as a space for feedback and planning for the students in the TPT. I like the idea of making the feedback available for anyone who is interested in it, but I'm not sure if I would want to use a lot of class time for that. I'm definitely open to ideas though!

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
Team

I like the idea of TLTs. Have you explored lesson study model from Japan: It's an approach that has intrigued me and could be a good build on your TLT idea. Here's a link to the idea: http://www.americanradioworks.org/segments/a-different-approach-to-teacher-learning-lesson-study/

My favorite part of the article: The collaboration between teachers " doesn't focus on the teacher; they focus on the students. How are the students reacting to the lesson? What are they understanding or misunderstanding? The purpose is to improve the lesson, not to critique the teacher."

Take a look. There might be some ways to weave this into your idea! Great job Samantha!

Photo of John Faig
Team

I love the idea of focusing on students as a way to avoid conflict! I also love including students in the improvement dialogue as it is not often done.