Teachers ask a lot of students. Do this. Do that. Turn this in on time. Be quiet. Sit up. Work harder. Et cetera. But how often do we (don’t forget, we’re classroom teachers, too!) think about what it must feel like to be asked to do all the things we ask students to do during the course of a school year?

After the last meeting of the Flat Classroom book club (hear the recording HERE), I got to thinking about the ways we ask students to contribute and collaborate. These are two things we expect students to do quite often. But I wonder, how often do we do them ourselves? Less than we might think.

Consider these questions…

When was the last time you commented on a blog post you read?

Have you ever “watched” a twitter chat without chiming in? (a.k.a. lurking, but I really loathe that word!)

When was the last time you worked together with a colleague to create a project or unit? (And I mean really worked together…shared the work, shared the credit, helped each other out, and made it happen as a team.)

These are just a few examples of the types of things we’re expecting of students. We ask them to contribute in meaningful ways, join in on discussions, and work together with peers. Not only do we need to be teaching students the skills necessary to do these things (there’s a lot they can’t learn how to do on their own when it comes to this), but we also need to be doing these things ourselves!

We need to be making regular contributions and actively involved within our Personal Learning Network. Speaking up during chats. Leaving blog comments. Sharing ideas. Let’s become producers ourselves, not just consumers, in exactly the same ways we ask students to do so.

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to make this idea of getting more teachers to contribute and collaborate a reality. I’d love to hear your ideas. And I hope the next time you ask students to contribute, collaborate, or anything else, you ask yourself to do the same.


modeling clay photo credit: ~Oryctes~ via photo pin cc 

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  • Prattbox5

    EXCELLENT POINT! I think that this is definitely an area that we, as educators need to be addressing among ourselves and our colleagues to practice these things ourselves while in turn modeling them for our students.

  • HoneyFernSchool

    I do this all the time – interact, engage and collaborate as much as possible. I find Twitter chats to be unhelpful, generally, because everyone is agreeing with everyone else, but other than that, I think the dialogue and resources can be helpful.

    I think most important tot ake away, though, is modeling the process of learning. Students often skip steps or stop when something gets hard; if adults can model appropriate ways to get through something difficult (i.e., when two opposing views need to be reconciled to move forward), then that is the lesson that will stick.

  • Lindy Buckley

    Totally agree. Modelling is the key to so many things, contributing and collaborating being just a couple!

  • Katluc5500

    I agree with what you are saying and have to admit I often browse and rarely comment. You have inspired me! I will make a more concentrated effort to comment and add to future discussions. Thank you.

  • Christ Thinnes, @CurtisCFEE

    Guilty as charged! ;)

    Thanks for a great reminderand call to action for all of us.

  • CRay

    I think that often, we are like our students, hesitant to speak up. Whether this is due to education as many of us old-timers have known it… “there is one right answer”, or that it has been our experience that creativity and reflective thinking haven’t been valued and cultivated.

    Can we really develop these skills in our students if we aren’t willing to put ourselves out there as well?

  • http://twitter.com/bicyclettebleu Maxine Simmonds

    Fair comment. I will try harder (so tempting to delete this).