At Pilgrim Academy, you will now find the Collaborative Collective Committee, or “C3,” as Pilgrim teachers call it. C3 is a teacher-run initiative inspired by the Project Zero experience. In this monthly event, teachers present on how they are using Project Zero routines or other practices to their fellow educators.
At a recent C3 event, one educator shared his success using ClassDojo to provide real-time positive feedback to his student phones, keeping them engaged and attentive through class. Many of his peers were fascinated by this, and left ready to try the same.
As Andrew Casler, Dean of Students at Pilgrim Academy, learned at Project Zero, “professional development and learning sticks when it comes from the ground up, from the teachers themselves.” It is through this empowerment of teacher-driven learning that C3 has really taken off.
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.
Making Thinking Visible is a research-based approach to teaching thinking that was developed at Harvard’s Project Zero Classroom. Instead of lecturing the students and then asking for the answer to a question, the teacher is a facilitator for the students themselves to be the questioners. This approach, and the corresponding thinking routines, may seem commonsensical, but they go against decades of traditions in classrooms.
As T.H. Rogers Assistant Principal Christian Winn says, “Making Thinking Visible challenges us as educators to move from thinking about learning to using thinking to learn. From us thinking about a concept or question or idea, to thinking with a concept or question or idea. And there is where the real learning happens with our students.”
Through spoken or written word or visual paintings, students share their learning, cultivate their own moods of wonder, and learn in the process.