A Bell Curve

This is it! My first post on this wonderful space. I am not sure what this is really going to look like a few years from now, however my intentions are the best possible. I decided to change my teaching practices from traditional lecture-style, teacher-centered, quizzes and tests driven, where students are motivated to perform based on the competitive nature of grades, to a more student-centered, project-based learning environment, where students strive to achieve success based on their intrinsic motivation to learn and achieve their future dreams.

It always bothered me that in the course of my 9 year teaching career, the infamous “bell curve” has always been a constant in analyzing student achievement. “Oh look, a perfect bell curve” I would say after analyzing my student’s results. Deep inside I always though: “why can’t I have a flat-line in the A or B-range”? “Why must we accept, and more importantly, expect, that certain students will underperform in our classes. The bell curve became sort of this weird objective that almost forced me to find reasons to fail certain students. I felt that if all of my students succeeded my superiors would “accuse” me of being lenient, or not pushing students hard enough.

Well, the bell curve is a thing of the past for me. I have been introduced to the concept of projects-based learning a couple of years ago, and although I felt that it made perfect sense to utilize it, the idea of focusing my class on my students rather than myself as the major avenue for learning, was extremely daunting to me. After two years of analyzing and observing and studying this method, I finally decided to take the plunge. I am changing my practice to PBL. I decided to record my experiences in this webpage and with the help of my teaching community,┬áconduct research that will hopefully prove that a projects-based learning environment, has in its core, a strong focus on differentiation, which helps teachers break away from the “one size fits all” mentality, which contributes to the success of some, but also the failure of others.

I truly hope that, along with colleagues and other teaching professionals, we can start and develop conversation that will celebrate and discuss best teaching practices that part from the idea that failure is accepted and expected in our classrooms. Let the games begin!