Here’s the Afterword for The Genius Hour Guidebook, written by middle grades teacher and global Genius Hour advocate Joy Kirr.
Denise and Gallit (@mrskrebs and @gallit_z on Twitter) were my mentors when I was starting Genius Hour with my seventh graders.
They didn’t warn me about possible pitfalls; they brought to the forefront the possibilities of children’s ideas. I never heard them mention any students who were struggling with this idea of self-directed learning. They never warned me that other teachers would think I’m crazy. I was surprised when the teacher across the hall would give me a dirty look and shut the door because my class was getting loud.
Why keep this information to themselves? I know why now. It’s okay to fail. Failing at something you’re passionate about just gives you more fuel to make it work. It’s okay for others to look at you as if you’re crazy, or “too loud.” That means you are engaged. That means you are trying. We need to experience this so when the students experience the same, we are ready to support them.
Gallit and Denise talk about autonomy, mastery and purpose. Yes, students are more engaged when these three are in place. What’s more, it’s the same for teachers. Once you have the autonomy to begin something like Genius Hour, you already have the purpose, and you will want to master it.
Joy Kirr student – Global Cardboard Challenge
Each week you will be tweaking ideas and figuring out how to help your students to the best of your ability. Once you see the struggles and the outcomes, you will find ways to integrate student-directed learning into the rest of your week. Your week will become infused with student choice, and student voice.
“Genius Hour is a baby step, part of the journey
to flipping your classroom on its head
and handing the learning over to the children.”
Is this the end? No. As Denise and Gallit have already said, Genius Hour is only the beginning. It is not the “cure all” for education. It is a baby step, and part of the journey to flipping your classroom on its head, and handing the learning over to the children. Your brain must be spinning with ideas, so it’s time to get started on this journey. Hold on for the ride.
As you plan, share with the students, facilitate the process and come across issues, reach out to Denise and Gallit. They will be excited to help you on your journey. You’ll soon be wanting—and then searching out ways—to implement Genius Curriculum 100% of the time.