Learn Like a Pirate: Chapter 2

2. Common Concerns about Student-Led Classrooms

Hi everyone. Welcome back to Chapter 2 of Learn Like a Pirate, by Paul Solarz. Chapter 2 is Common Concern About Student-Led Classrooms.

As I was reading chapter 1, my mind started to already jump ahead to so many questions.
-How would I do this in my classroom?
-How would this work?
-What would this look like?
-How in the world will I be able to fully give up control?
-What would my admin say about all of this?

The first concern that Paul Solarz brings up in chapter 2 is “I’m worried about giving up control to my students.”

This was my first concern. I mean what teacher doesn’t have the nightmare where he or she can not control the students and then your admin walks in??
Deep down, I know it’s not the same type of control. I know we are not talking about classroom management, but that is exactly what I thought about.
According to Mr. Solarz, you are not really giving up control. Instead, you are sitting back and letting the students think for themselves. You don’t interfere (well at least most of the time) and let the kids make mistakes. I love that fact that you let the kids know that what you, as the teacher says is final.

The second concern: “I can’t do this. I’m definitely going to make a lot of mistakes and fail.”
I have to say that I am not concerned about failing. I already know that I will make a lot of mistakes and might fail. I teach my kids that everyone makes mistakes and will fail at something so this will be a good model for my kiddos.

The third concern: “There’s just too much at stake. I can’t risk this not working.”
Again, this is not really one of my concerns. I try to teach my students to be risk takers and to think for themselves. I love how Mr. Solarz points out that if the student-led classroom doesn’t work, the worst that can happen is that you have a teacher-led classroom. 🙂

The fourth concern: “This will be too much work. I can’t take on another thing right now.
I think every teacher around the world has had this concern. As teachers, we are bogged down with so much paper work and things to do. It seems like every other week, admin is giving us something new to do or to try. It gets very overwhelming!!
I am so glad that I am reading this book now and thinking about setting up my classroom in September. Making the kids responsible is something we all strive for. By starting in September and teaching our students what our expectations are and their responsibilities, we set the kids up early on in the year to become leaders in the classroom.

Fifth concern: “But, won’t my room get loud?”
Another concern I had was how loud my room would be. But then I started to think…my room is already pretty loud. I do a lot of group work, partner work, and turning and talking to each other. I try to teach my kids that what ever talk is going on, must be productive. So I guess my room might become a little louder, but I think I can handle it.

Sixth concern: “Parents and administrators won’t like it.”
Another concern I had was about what my admin would think about the student-led classroom. After reading chapter 2, I am confident that my admin and my parents would welcome a student-led classroom. They would be happy to see that all students are engaged and are enjoying school. My admin would get to see and hear what the students know and realize that the students are becoming more independent and risk takers.

WOW!! I really had a lot of concerns. As I read chapter 2, I realized that we are all in the same boat. We are all worried or concerned about giving up control, how loud the class will become, what our administrators or parents would think of our classroom, and being overwhelmed.

After reflecting on my teaching, reading Learn Like a Pirate, and reading the other posts by my fellow bloggers, (you can read their fabulous posts below! 🙂 ) I know I can do this! AND IF FOR SOME REASON I flounder and think for a second or two that I CAN NOT do this, I can go back and reread the concerns that Mr. Solarz laid out for us in chapter 2. I can also reach out to my colleagues who are also willing to try starting a student-led classroom for some much needed support.

I can’t wait to share my thoughts on chapter 3. See you next week!

Rachel