Happy Steve

Innovation and Learning

Start with clarity of intent.

Now build it out with an evocative vision. Improvise progress by tinkering: with lots of trial and lots of error. The not knowing is the best bit: the mysteries the surprises, and from time to time the windfalls! 

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/GAT Project/ "My Initial Thoughts", by Talar Khatchoyan

This is post 6 in a series about an experimental new learning structure at our school, with no program, no assessments, no teacher talk. In this post my colleague Talar Khatchoyan shares her thoughts thus far.

GAT: My initial thoughts

I first heard about the GAT project at the end of Term 2. At that stage it felt to me to be the undeveloped brainchild of Steve Collis. It sounded like the sort of project I would have naturally gravitated toward whilst a student because it offered so much freedom and time to pursue a project of my choice. However, beyond this, I had no idea what to expect. I cannot even tell you the exact point GAT went from being a distant possibility, to a project I had willingly signed myself to. My most coherent thoughts at those early stages were:

- I am worried

- I can t understand how it will work

- I think working with Steve will be an adventure

Now, four weeks into the initiation of GAT, I feel mostly the same- though perhaps more excited than worried.

So far, GAT has meant letting go of all my teacher-instincts and going with the flow of the students, of the course and of its demands. With each conversation I have with Steve or a student, I feel as though things are slightly more defined and yet, strangely, less so- which, is truly, the nature of learning. It feels something like the moment you first pick up a Shakespeare you haven t studied. You feel overwhelmed, excited, with a touch of trepidation because you know that what will come will teach you something new about humanity, about Shakespeare s craft, about culture and sub-culture, and a whole lot of other things. Learning cannot fit into a box, just as Shakespeare cannot be confined to one page. They breathe and grow and endure; they inform future learning. This is GAT.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid ~Einstein

I love this quote, because it is a humble reminder to me. I am reminded that my students come with their individual talents, goals and abilities. I am reminded that they are unique thinkers and that there are many things they can do better than I can. I am reminded that I need to celebrate their successes and recognise their genius. GAT helps me see this. I see students pursuing their craft, their learning, and their passions.

I think my favourite moment is when students pose an idea. We talk about it, we play around with it, bounce it around and stretch it to see how far it will go and then suddenly, they see that there is potential there. What they had thought to be a quick task, or a distant dream, has now developed into a larger, complex project. I love the moments when they are excited that their work will be published, read, accessed, assessed, by peers and professionals.

During our GAT session today, I spent half an hour talking to a student who had a fairly developed idea. Their project was to create a social justice kit to help schools in raising awareness of the issues in our world today. She had finished a first draft and wanted an opinion. After half an hour of discussion, she walked away with a totally transformed idea. We spoke about taking her project and developing it as a website resource for schools. We spoke about the possibility of networking with student designers to produce posters that could be downloaded as resources to be used in schools. We spoke about the potential for this to become a long-term project that could be maintained and updated to be used for many years. This is GAT! I couldn t help but feel excited with her as we peeled the layers of restrictions we often feel are placed around our ideas to discover the true possibility of our imagination and thought.

I'm so excited to be a part of this project. I love the fact that students are directing themselves and that they are learning and helping one another access resources and information. I can t wait to see what happens next!

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts entitled /GAT Project/ They will appear regularly at this website, categorised under 'GAT Project'. If you'd like to receive future posts, you can:

- click here to subscribe to Steve's blog in general by email, or here in a reader.

- click here http://www.happysteve.com/contact/ and indicate 'GAT Posts Only' in the message body - I'll email you when I update the GAT Project just for the duration of the series.

- or regularly check this link for new posts: http://www.happysteve.com/blog/tag/gat-project