I first attempted to use project-based learning when I was a teacher at a traditional middle school in San Diego. It was an awful experience.
😎I thought the hardest part about teaching with PBL would be planning awesome projects.
😳I was wrong.
🤯The hardest part was trying to do awesome projects in a system that couldn't change.
There are so many "fixed" aspects of school. We all know them: time is organized by periods/lessons, teaching is organized by subjects, space is organized by classrooms... none of these things are driven by what's best for student learning. None of these things are conducive for deeper learning through projects.
After one year of trying really hard to fit PBL into all of these fixed settings, I gave up. I went to teach at High Tech High where I had a lot more flexibility around how learning is organized.
I see a lot of schools try to use project-based learning without taking a critical look at the structures surrounding school. Most of them don't succeed because of the same reasons I encountered. If teacher-driven time, subjects, curriculum and space are not re-imagined, how can a student-driven pedagogy survive?
Re-imagining time is a good place to start.