In this episode, PEBC Lab Host Jana Durbin and Michelle Morris Jones unpack the fear of “learning loss” and how joy, inquiry, and community come together to create opportunities for supporting student wellness and academic achievement. In the fall when Jana’s students returned to the classroom she quickly realized the importance of helping her students feel safe and the need for personal connection. The rituals and routines of the workshop model, extended time to play, and art helped her young learners come together as a strong community of inquirers. In November, Jana and her students returned to a remote learning model until it was safe for schools to reopen. When her students returned to the classroom in January, Jana was shocked at how basic interpersonal and academic skills had slipped away. Rather than focusing on the loss of discrete skills Jana doubled down on art, interdisciplinary inquiry, and communal goals for growth and high quality. Today, if one could visit Jana’s classroom they would see her students engaged in Reader’s & Writer’s Workshops where they are reading and writing with great engagement and ‘just clicking through reading levels,’ creating communal art projects that reflect their new learning, and engaged in deep inquiry as scientists and mathematicians.
Jana believes that the workshop model has provided her students with the opportunity to develop their stamina, identity, and find joy through engagement with juicy topics and texts. As Jana plans for next year, she intends on taking care of her students’ little hearts and hands so that their minds can grow. This includes intentionally integrating more art and interdisciplinary projects to build community, engagement, and deeper understanding of the world.
Jana Durbin is a PEBC Lab Host and multi-age primary teacher at the Jeffco Open School in Lakewood, Colorado and in normal times hosts visitors to observe her and her young learners in action. To learn more check out the PEBC Teaching Framework or dive into Phenomenal Teaching by Wendy Ward Hoffer.
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