A few months ago, I was listening to a group of students have a conversation in our classroom. It was a well thought-out conversation, capturing their various viewpoints on what was going on in our world today — politically, socially, and generally. They were able to keep their minds open and demonstrate a Growth Mindset. As well, they were able to respectfully disagree with each other, while supporting their own views and opinions.
These students were practicing skills that will take them down whatever paths lie before them, with the capacity to overcome any obstacles that may get in their way. In short, they were demonstrating Transferable Skills across the board.
Without both planned and serendipitous facilitation, that could have just been a conversation in a classroom, overheard as a distraction, with students told to pipe down. And the learning? Gone otherwise unnoticed.
In that moment, however, it dawned on me that what these students were doing was something important, something valuable, and something that is becoming more and more rare in our world today.
They were demonstrating clear and effective communication. They were self-directing: taking charge and directing their learning and research. They were collaborating and working to generate solutions to real-world problems. They were entering into roles of responsible and involved citizenship. And they were demonstrating informed and integrated thinking. These are BFA Fairfax’s Transferable Skills.
Sometimes, we spend so much time as teachers trying to connect what we’re teaching to the real world, that we forget the learning transaction can occur in the opposite direction. It is possible to take what our students are already doing outside the school environment and connect that to the classroom. And, more than possible, it’s preferable! When we are able to engage students in learning through their passions, the learning goes deeper and lasts longer.
I’ve been an avid podcast consumer for quite some time now. The one downside of living in the same town I work in is that I no longer have a regular commute to satiate my podcast appetite.
So, naturally, podcasting was one of the first things that came to my mind when I was overhearing these students’ interactions. I think they actually thought I was joking when I first brought up the idea.
Then, they humored me, and we recorded our first episode of Do Not Listen To This Podcast.
In no time, they wanted to jump right in and start preparing for the next episode.
And we started the website, and got on iTunes and YouTube, and started connecting with people from around the world.
And now these students are talking about legacy. As all three of them are looking forward to graduation in June, they’re reflecting on our podcast and the opportunity it has presented them, and wanting to ensure that it continues going forward as an opportunity for other students to engage in. They’ve dubbed it “our Saturday Night Live,” envisioning the revolving cast and multitude of seasons, and are looking forward to listening to it, and engaging in the conversations throughout the years to come.
Today’s guest post was contributed by Harold Vance III, the Flexible Pathways Coordinator at BFA Fairfax.