For T.H. Rogers, the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero Classroom is not like any typical professional development program. As one educator said, “It was the best professional development experience I’ve ever had…I left with thinking routines in my hand that I could take back and, right then and there, do in my classroom.”
Heeding the suggestion to “take a piece of beach wood or a shell, instead of trying to take home the whole beach,” T.H. Rogers educators return to school armed with a few pieces of advice they can begin to apply and use with their students.
Along with new practices, the educators return filled with wonder, curiosity, and excitement. It is in these moods that they experiment with various routines. They try a routine in one class, share what they find with their colleagues, explore how to tweak and improve it, and try something new the next time around.
This new culture of learning starts small but spreads. Just as students are frequently taught to memorize and recite answers, much of traditional professional development presents a litany of concepts to apply or learning protocols to follow. Project Zero starts by changing what learning is for educators. As one teacher at T.H. Rogers said, “The trip to Harvard was invaluable. We spent time being in the shoes of our students, wondering about wonder, and wondering about learning.”
As the educators engage with their own learning in a new way, the same happens in their classrooms. Through the thinking routines, students are given the opportunity and new skills to wonder and engage in their own learning. As a result of attending HGSE’s Project Zero course, students and educators at T.H. Rogers are learning together, side-by-side, in a new way.