“Systems is a key tool for assessment, because you have a good record of what knowledge people offered, gained and added in making connections.”
Carolyn’s 3rd grade Classroom
CONVERSATIONS, NOT ANSWERS
I knew some of my colleagues were using systems thinking, and I loved how it let the students lead. But it seemed a little risky; I wasn’t sure how I could guide the conversation where it needed to go. I think maybe I didn’t really understand it, and I wasn’t doing it “right”. But as I used a systems approach, I really started to let go of that mindset and see that there’s really no right or wrong; it’s all learning.
The maps show what students offered and how they added knowledge and made connections. Assessment using is enhanced because Systems maps are easy to review and share with students and even parents.
Our Stories: Pushes and Pulls
At the end of the school year we talk about our communities, our city, and how we all got here. The conversation about immigration starts from students’ personal and family histories, and brings us right up to today. What are ways to welcome kids who might be new here in Los Angeles? How do they learn the systems of living here?
So my students brainstormed about making a website for kids who come here and might not know things to do. They also created pamphlets with topics on how to find homework help, free things to do in LA that are fun; places to learn English. These are all systems that they know about, and could even teach peers about.
One thing I noticed during my student teaching, and as an associate teacher, was that my mentors and master teachers, had a lot of experience and a lot of systems in place. That seemed to be what kids needed to be successful. I remember thinking I needed to have systems in order to function, so everybody gets what they need. Now I realize systems is not only a teaching lens, but inform the teaching practice.
We use systems to teach, and we also teach the kids to see and understand systems.