Exploring the Core Podcast

A Self-Directed Learning Environment

Episode Summary

Welcome to the EXPLORING THE CORE PODCAST, where we delve into the elements that make up our education system and learn more about how that system can improve for the benefit of all students in schools today. I'm Greg Mullen, and I’d first like to take this moment now to thank you for listening to this podcast. This will be the final episode of this season. I hope you’ve enjoyed the episodes, I hope you share this podcast with other educators, and I hope you’ll listen to these episodes again, to the experts interviewed, and begin exploring how your own schools and classrooms can benefit from shifting toward a self-directed learning environment. In this episode today, you may recognize a different tone to my voice, a different feel to this episode, than in the previous episodes. Today, I want to share a few of my more personal stories and insights from my classroom experiences early in my career that helped lead me to my current perspective toward education, experiences that helped shaped my perspective toward what I now believe is a path for creating a more meaningful approach, a self-directed, student-centered, classroom learning environment. I’ll be putting myself out on a limb here, sharing a few of my more vulnerable moments, because what I’m hoping you will take away from this episode, from this season really, is how there’s not just one perspective for journeying toward a self-directed learning environment but that whichever philosophical path you have chosen to follow, you and so many other teachers today have already begun choosing to take a path away from what we’ve been taught for so long of what school is and begin considering what school ought to be. The experiences I share today are not causal, are not the single events that sparked my whole perspective. They’ll simply be instances where I began to question some of the more traditional school practices that were particularly challenging for me. So please keep in mind the context in which these experiences happened will be different than your own but that the choice to question the underlying intent of various traditional practices will surely align with many different teachers in a variety of different situations and environments. Plus, I’ll be sharing a phone conversation I was lucky enough to have with Starr Sackstein from New York about how she’s been moving away from traditional school practices, even going completely gradeless, and coaching other educators with books and TED talks helping others create a more student-focused approach, and celebrating how the institution of school can be so much more than what we’ve always thought school had to be.

Episode Notes

Podcast and Episode Copyright 2019 Exploring the Core LLC

* www.ExploringTheCore.com * #ExploringTheCore *

Episode transcripts available at www.ExploringTheCore.com

Episode Release Date: January 27, 2020

"Mullen: For me, the last decade of teaching has created a lot of great memories, single moments, snippits of random days where a student did or said something that really struck me, made me think about what I’m doing as a teacher, what they were doing as a student, and what we were all really trying to do together in that classroom." - Greg Mullen

"What I had come to realize is that the reason this whole idea of self-directed learning seems so overwhelming is that the current systems are not created to place ownership of learning on the students." - Greg Mullen

"It’s been a long journey for me and I am hoping that this episode highlights the importance of shifting not only the practices and methods in schools today but, more importantly, in shifting the philosophies and visions of how we approach the education system not just for teachers and admin in the schools, but for teacher candidates, teacher mentors, instructional coaches, and even families, students, and communities." - Greg Mullen

Interview: Starr Sackstein, https://www.mssackstein.com/

"It has always been my belief that you should do the projects that you expect your students to do..." - Starr Sackstein

"The best person to be creating the test are the people who are doing the teaching, so we, you know, we know what we taught, we know what students were supposed to have learned and what they should be able to do, and since all of our curriculum isn’t aligned nationally like from room to room it’s not often exactly the same…" - Starr Sackstein

"And the students that are in our schools now really do have rich contexts that they can draw on to connect to different themes and ideas and characters that are happening in literature, and we have to give them the space to ask those questions, dig into those topics that they think are important..." - Starr Sackstein