Blog #2: TIP Overview – Interview with Matt Simon
In our first blog we posed questions related to authentic and caring spaces, making connections with students as educators, student empowerment in learning, and organizing our curriculum around students’ lives and civic agency. In this second blog we reflect on those critical questions after our interview with Matt Simon, San Diego Professional Learning Specialist. In this interview, Matt provides a history of the Thematic Interdisciplinary Project-Based (TIP) pilot program in the Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS), as well as the TIP’s success and purpose. This was important for setting the context of what we witnessed in our visit to schools that day. In addition, we wanted to highlight the impact effective pedagogy has on student learning, JCCS culture, and educators working
with the youth.Here are some of our key takeaways!
Authentic and Caring Spaces: In order to create authenticity in our learning spaces, we must be real and transparent with students. Matt emphasized the following questions: “Do students have a safe space to share what they are truly going through and apply their theme to what they are going through? Can your students be who they are in this space or, have you created a condition where they have to basically pretend to be who you want them to be so they can get credit and a grade?”
Making Connections Between Students and Adults: We were struck by how Matt highlighted the shift in tension with movement in these learning spaces particular with probation staff: “They [probation officers] are often punishing our students, but they care deeply about our students…at first they were bothered by the change and students not sitting quietly behind an individual work packet. Instead it‘s students often getting up and racing to a location to get something they need for a project or pulling a group aside to rehearse something.”
Student Empowerment in Learning: Students own their learning and support peers when the experiences are purposeful. As a result of the TIP experience, Matt shared how students are becoming advocates for themselves and requesting to have the TIP experience. This is changing the way they learn and perceive themselves.
Curriculum Organization (Humanity, Civic Agency): Relevance in the curriculum is key and thematic approaches allow students to build personal connections to their learning. As teachers engage in the TIP, Matt noted how many of them never imagined teaching in this way and pushing student thinking to the level being achieved. They are addressing critical questions such as: “How do we make the curriculum matter to youth and their lives alongside high expectations? How are we addressing socio-emotional learning needs?”
Check out the video below for more on our great interview with Matt! Also for more information on Beyond the Crossfire please check here!
We hope that you all are as inspired as we are with Matt’s passion! Remember, to check back next week for our next post on relationships!