A few months ago, in my entry called Transformation witness, I mentioned that effective teaching inspires real learning, and that stimulating and meaningful teaching-learning environments/processes must equally yield effective reflection. Thus, every time culminating projects come to life, another opportunity to observe, understand, visualize possibilities, and reflect emerges.
The reflection teachers and students should undergo in the light of the Personal Project is a critical one, for this is the last brick on the bridge that connects the land where concepts, contexts and skills were scaffolded and sequenced in spirals (MYP), and the land where prescribed content and standards might not encourage them to explore their creativity, and design thinking skills as much – although they should.
For those teachers that accompanied students in their journey, experiences like this represent the moment where they become aware of how the environment that their interaction generated and embraced, favored the development of critical thinking and real learning. For those that will soon welcome and guide these students who are unwrapping ideas they have devised and engineered, this is the chance to become aware of the baggage of skills, idea cocoons, dreams they are bringing along with them, so that proper follow up to their development is given, for there is nothing more disappointing that not having or being able to generate a scenario where creative and stimulating learning can occur.
Transition moments (PYP exhibition, MYP Personal Project Presentation, Extended Essay in DP) are instrumental when a school wants to visualize how the curriculum flows and expands. Thus, recognizing the value of these turns in the cycles, and using them as an opportunity for reflection and strategy-development is how learning in a community becomes sustainable: when every stake holder becomes aware of how the environment and understandings are causing them to evolve, when every new skill acquired is given an instrumental role in the community, when we are all opportunity detectives: always trying to find out the key element that will allow us to continue using our school, our habitat, our lab, as a space for experimentation and discovery. Since nothing is better than living the ideas we age co-generating, and the ideals we are co-constructing, we must appreciate, and learn from what is happening around us, because our story, our efforts, and our ideas are a big deal, as I also shared in Another Brick on the Bridge.
Curious, creative minds are able to give so much time and thoughts to a subject, so let’s continue embracing opportunities like this to witness how small ideas can give change to our community. We never know, some of these seeds might become trees or even forests.
Here, a quick glimpse of the Personal Project Presentations 2015 at Ecole Mondiale:
“That world was an endless expanse that began at the door between the kitchen and the rest of the house, whereas everything on the kitchen side of that door, on through the door leading to the patio and the kitchen and herb gardens was completely hers-it was Tita’s realm.”
— Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate.