Today, June 15th, my educational soul sister, Sarah Greenswag, and I took the deep dive into crafting our first major PBL project. I’m so fortunate to have journeyed to California with the most amazing group of educators and Sarah is no exception! We share so many similarities besides the obvious love for history and small (ok maybe enormous, slightly unhealthy) obsession with Abraham Lincoln! Most importantly we share a vision that we want all students who walk through our door to leave as more conscious citizens. We both feel very passionately that our content isn’t the most important thing in our classroom; instead it’s how we make kids feel that will propel them to excellence in life.
So today, Sarah and I worked on creating our first PBL project titled “Super(?) Power”. One of the beginning steps of PBL is to create a design question that you want you students to answer. Our DQ is “Has the United States fulfilled its responsibilities as a superpower in the post WWII era?” The resources PBL World provides are perfect for a "Type A" teacher like myself. Sarah and I spent the day working through the tasks and enjoyed hours of conversation about what our goals really were in the last few units of US History. Sarah and I hope our project connects students because they are the next generation of global leaders and we want them to see in this polarized political environment they don't need to solely rely on politicians and government to solve problems and be the leaders in the world! We want them to see that many people, organizations, and leaders can help. We want them to understand the role American has played and the global impact we’ve had since WWII. At the end of the project we hope that our students will see themselves as a part of a world community by studying America’s role throughout the Cold War and beyond. Will this work? Only time will tell! But don’t worry we will be very excited to share what we’ve created once we finish!
Working with Sarah and my team this week has made me realize perhaps the most important thing regarding successful PBL implementation, you must have a support system and colleagues to help you work through every stage of PBL. It is vital to have a sounding-board and support system of colleagues to navigate PBL as well as provide for a check on your educational practices. Often educators don’t make changes because it can be very scary to try new and challenging things if you don’t know that at the end of the day you’ll have someone to talk to and help you move forward.
As the end of the work day crept closer you would think that I would feel excited and ready to go but instead I feel scared! I feel like I want to do this but I’m afraid it won’t work. I feel myself still asking too many questions and thinking how will my content get covered and how will my students be prepared for the tests the are required to take. I find myself not being resilient. I find myself needing to take a deep breath and trust the process and rely on the amazing support system I have!
As I've spent the last two days working on my first project I'm experiencing an excitement I haven't felt for a long time in my educational career and that feels amazing!