Today I spent my lunch hour at a volunteer appreciation lunch at a school where I, along with 54 others, have been volunteering over the past year. This was mainly a student run luncheon. The students created a presentation, made speeches, said grace, made lunch, prepared gifts, wrote cards, served food & drinks, greeted & seated guests, and decorated. These students are amazing, to say the least.
As I was sipping on my coffee and enjoying the presentation, I considered what an amazing cross curricular, experiential learning experience this is for the students to engage in. Essentially when speaking in terms of curriculum subjects and outcomes and indicators, the students would have covered areas of math(setting up chairs for appropriate amounts of people, preparing enough food for all guests, setting up the schedule for the lunch), ELA (writing and presenting speeches, writing in the cards, sending out emails), social studies (community involvement, understanding of well-being), science (the life cycle of plants, growing and taking care of plants which were then gifted to the guests) health(giving back to the community, and essentially every aspects of health) and I am sure much more that I am missing. Looking at this experience in those terms, this was a teachers dream come true all wrapped up into a conclusion of an hour and a half.
This then made me think about when the real learning will occur for my future students? What kind of experiences will I be able to create for them that they will truly benefit from in the long run? How can I make learning meaningful to their lives? What kind of learning will help my students become ‘life long learners?’ I am continuously finding more reasons as to why the classroom as we think of it, in its standard form, needs to change. What we consider to be a ‘normal’ classroom needs to change, we are well overdue. Many teachers may consider an experience like this and cringe at the amount of time and preparation it would take. However, these teachers embraced it and went ahead full force. I wonder how much these students will benefit from this experience over sitting in the classroom?