Sunday, August 27, 2017

Roles that Reflect the World & Maintains the Classroom

When I first started teaching, I wanted to model the working world I had worked in for over 10 years. I was always told that school helps prepare you to be a productive citizen and have a career. I thought what better way to run my classroom similar to the career world. It was in the first two years of teaching that I created Logic Inc (Click here for how I did it). It is a fictional consulting company that helps their clients solve their most pressing problems using mathematical concepts. I explain on the first day of school that they are apart of this company which will build their resume and open up opportunities for employment. This is very enticing for my high school students who want to make money.
This is the company logo.

Consistent Classroom Roles

One of the components of the company is roles that will remain constant all school year. These are roles the students get to have input on the qualifications and are allowed to interview to be in the positions. My current constant roles are manager, SME and class reporter. A manager oversees 3 to 5 students for the duration of a unit or a project. They are responsible for helping students who were absent be caught up, facilitate activities, encourage collaboration among the team and reporting the health of the team to the CEO (the teacher). A SME is a subject matter expert who helps students to understand a concept during work time. As seen in the picture below, SMEs float around the room helping any student with problems. A class reporter is responsible for summarizing what occurred in the classroom that day.

Qualifications for the Roles

There are basic requirements I have for each role. A manager must have a desire or shown leadership abilities. A SME must have demonstrated understanding of the concept in which they are helping students. A class reporter must know how to type and be organized. 

However, students get to add at least two additional qualifications they want in a person for each role. This is completed during the syllabus project completed within the first 3 weeks of school. During the project, students are told about the roles. They ask questions about the details of each role. The answers and their past experience shapes their suggestion for what qualifications the person should have. They submit their personal thoughts individually and then work as a team to create a final proposal of qualifications. Below are three students suggestion for this school year's qualifications. 

Selecting & Supporting Students for the Roles

After the classes vote for the qualifications, students apply and interview for the positions. The application process is simply asking them during an opening activity all the positions they want to be considered. They have the option to not apply for a position at all. During an extended class work time day, I interview students for the various positions. Here are the interview questions I am using this year when interviewing the students. It is based upon my own requirements and the requested qualifications of the students. I plan on interviewing students every 9 weeks because sometimes a student doesn't want to apply at one point in time and changes their mind later. There are times that I appoint a student without them applying. 

Supporting the students is something I am still working on and invite suggestions. For this year, I am going to meet with the managers on a weekly basis. They will fill out a quick form to update me on their team by Thursday and I will discuss with them changes we need to make on Friday. During my weekly discussions with them, I will share quick tips to develop them and troubleshoot any issues. The meeting will be from 5 to 10 minutes as a group. I will have a meeting with all SMEs right before they are required to help people on classwork days. I will share with them questioning techniques and coach them during the day they are helping. Class reporter will review my postings in Edmodo to guide them on how to summarize and report to the class. I will provide suggestions for the first few days of their work and then I will monitor on a weekly basis.


John McCarthy said...

Hi Telannia,

I love this idea of the students becoming professionals in a company like Mathematics Inc. I imagine that within this format, math is taught in context of the professions that they are modeling as they "become" the roles. With your deep expertise in math and understanding of the business world, that is a powerful experience for the students.

To your question, I wonder if students get "professional development" opportunities to learn the skills that connect to roles that they feel unqualified for? As professionals we look for opportunities to develop those 21st Century Skills that will help us to be better at our current job, and prepare for the opportunity to move into another position. Additionally, how might students who demonstrate strong skills in the roles they are hired in, could help run the PD for other students who are interested in the role. Could be a nice assessment of 21st Century Skills in their approach to PD support.

Great article. I'm excited to share your rich experiences in this post to as many educators as I can :)

Telannia Norfar said...

I like the idea of PD opportunities. I am going to chew on that this weekend. Off the top of my head, I am thinking I can provide a small library of resources that students can check out. I was definitely thinking of having the last people who were in a role train the next group. However, I think I will keep thinking on other ways. I will post the results :)!