What do teachers do when students lead?
At Inquiry Hub, we make a big deal about our student-powered projects. Most ideas turn out better in practice when the students take the lead and the teachers play a different role than in a traditional classroom. The students own the project and they have their own reasons for completing it (beyond getting a grade). For example, here is a video created by students to start our 2018 open house. John Sarte, a teacher, consulted on the project and acquired necessary equipment, but the students created the piece and exercised their own decision-making.
Although a key element of Inquiry Hub is the invitation for students to lead, teachers actually do very important, very useful things. To illustrate, in 2016, John Sarte asked a few students if they wanted to produce a live action role play or larp. Several students immediately said yes and spent the next 3 months tossing ideas around and learning about larps—tinkering with story, trying out different characters, and testing potential game mechanics. It was a messy process with no blueprint to follow. So how did the students make it work?
What you need to know about our school is that projects, like larp, are led by students.
Inquiry Hub prefers to think of every learner as a hero facing the challenge of creating something new and different. Thus, the task of making their dream a reality is the reason to discover and hone their abilities. In this case, their ability to design a live action role play. To that end, they need a guide to encourage and challenge them. That’s the role of an iHub teacher.
John Sarte checked to see if the students were making progress in the larp planning. He provided guidance to get passed several stumbling blocks, such as how to agree on a story. He encouraged them to make a trailer and promote the activity to the school with quick tutorials on costuming, combat, and spell-casting. He also organized a foam-smithing workshop and recruited an instructor to teach swordplay. Clearly, the teacher learned a lot about larps alongside the students since he did not know anything about it beforehand.
When the larp took place, the teacher was an NPC (non-player character), running around with the students and setting them on quests. And when the students needed a new story line, that teacher was prepared to sacrifice his character so their game could go on.
Like in other schools, iHub teachers setup classes and lessons and communicate with students and their families. We assign and collect homework and supervise tests. We offer feedback, advice when needed, and help to organize time and resources. But most important, we participate in the creative community to help make student ideas come to life.
Since that first larp in 2016, we created four more and have elaborated on character creation, game mechanics, and we even introduced currency. Creating larps led to offering Directing and Script-writing and in the future we will have a dedicated Game Design course.
Just as you can’t have a school without students, you can’t have Inquiry Hub without teachers. Our teachers recognize the strengths and weaknesses of our diverse community. As experienced learners, we guide students toward their greatest opportunities for success. At our school, students and teachers work together to create and learn new skills. We collaborate to do better, to invent, and to innovate.