Authentic audience is a vital component to any project based learning unit. As teachers across the nation strive to develop high level PBL I think there is one vital aspect that is often overlooked in the process.
For many teachers, shifting to PBL is not something that happens overnight. We have to push beyond our comfort zones to change how we teach and how we deliver content. I don’t think there is one teacher who would love to have a project take off and connect with the world to showcase the work of students. BUT, in order for that to happen teacher confidence cannot be overlooked.
I don’t always think it is realistic for teachers to launch a new project and expect the community to be involved. Sometimes we have to test out a project idea to gain a sense of what works, what does not work, and how things will all fit together. Only after teaching a project for a year or two do we begin to think about introducing the ideas to the world.
Not every teacher has that entrepreneur mindset where they just launch an idea and have the tough skin to let it roll. We all bring our own flavor to our classrooms and that needs to be embraced.
Many times I witness the glitches that happen in delivery are many times due to overlooking the simple idea of teacher confidence. Teachers need to feel confident in their work and their ideas. We are no different than our students. Once we have a project figured out we can then begin to push our ideas out to the community. We need to make sure that we support the comfort levels of teachers as long as they are still pushing their own comfort zones. This is key. I am not suggesting we don’t change our ways. What I am talking about is that as teachers stretch the edges of their comfort zone we must support and help them gain confidence to continue to purse these paths and not cut them down with negativity and critique. This only shuts them down. There will always be teachers who push beyond the walls of the school, but to expect every single teacher to do so is asking a lot. It takes time and by encouraging and helping teachers move to this type of mindset takes time.
Focus on your own school. Make your walls and halls shine with deep learning of students. Turn your school into a marketing department of deeper learning so when the community sees the work they will want to be part of the process. They will be asking how they can get involved. Start with the culture of your own building first before moving the community.