School that is fun and interesting with choices and freedom with Guille, Eden, and Nico from the LearnLife Nature Hub for Primary YearsRead Now
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I am so excited for you all to hear from our guests today. Today we are joined by several folks from the LearnLife Nature Hub for Primary Years all the way in Barcelona Spain.
We have Guille Villena who is the learning guide and Primary Years lead and he's brought along two Primary Years students, Eden and Nico. I can't wait for you to hear from these insightful voices around educational innovation and in their own words describing a school that is fun and interesting with choices and freedom.
This conversation for context was recorded on October 4th 2021. Let's get right to it.
Hi, I'm Lindsey Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities. Take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti-racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar.
If you are a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader.
And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts. If you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the time for teacher ship podcast. Let's dive in.
Today I am welcomed by three folks from the LearnLife Nature Hub for Primary Years in Gabba Spain in the Barcelona area and I am so excited to turn it over to them to introduce themselves and talk a little bit about their school. Welcome everybody.
Thank you. Welcome.
I can start introducing myself. I'm Guille Villena, I'm currently the primary years lead of the nature Hub programs. I have been involved with LearnLife for almost three years. I started in the urban hub with the secondary years programs and we started the primary years project a year ago midst of the pandemic and the lockdown.
So it was a very interesting point to start the project but here we are with the second year growing in numbers. Iterating the programs and we're very, very excited for all of the new adventures to come.
And here with me, I have two learners who will introduce themselves with their name, their age and their favorite animal.
Yeah, My name is Eden, I'm 10 years old and my favorite animal are canines.
My name is Nico, I'm 10 years old and my favorite animal is the cheetah.
That is brilliant, thank you so much. That's really fun to learn about your favorite animals and also very interesting animal choices. I feel like those are really spot on. So one of the first things I'd love to dive into is there is an educator and a scholar, her name is Doctor Bettina Love and she talks about this idea called freedom dreaming and she says what we're doing right when we think about education as we want it to be.
Just like we're really thinking about dreams grounded in the critique or the criticism of injustice. And so I'm curious to know for you all, what is the big dream that you hold for the field of education? Like what do you wish school would be if it could be everything that you wanted it to be?
So our big, big, big dream as an organization is to help achieve 21st century learning model that empowers self directed learners, into their personal learning. And I would like to extend this question to Eden and Nico and what would be what, what would a perfect school look like for you?
To me it would be fun, interesting, lots of choices, not just like give you a paper and you have to do it. Like now you're allowed to work with people and you don't have to sit desks in a row.
The best school for me would be uh fun, the school will be fun and you know that you're learning something and using technology too. That's a brilliant answer. Thank you. Thank you both. That sounds like a really cool school that you're all painting collectively. I would like to attend that school. That sounds great. The next question I want to ask you is, you know, there are some teachers and some leaders who are just amazing, right there. They bring that to life. They make school fun and interesting and they use technology and they do all those things you're talking about and so I want to know what are like the ways that those teachers or leaders really help facilitate the learning. So what mindsets or ways of thinking about students do they have or what do they do as teachers that are really helpful for you?
I can start and then extend the question.
I would say the first thing that these leaders or teachers or as we call them, learning guides need to have is a very strong awareness of what positive relationships are. Because that's in our core of of what we do. Positive relationships for the learners between ourselves um as colleagues and with the the outside community I think that's a key, a key mindset. Also being agile and being able to navigate through uncertainty, having a growth mindset, divergent thinking and especially being able to collaborate. We have shifted from a solo mindset, and most teachers in traditional systems work by themselves and we have shifted that mindset into collaboration and working in collaboration with other learning guides and in the wider company, you know, so that for me, those would be the main mindset.
I don't know how Eden and Nico value? what is the thing that you most value about the learning guides here?
That they're kind and, I don't know how to say it, um creative and that they can join you and help you if you have problems.
I think it's nice that the teachers are nice and that they motivate you and accept your ideas.
I love those answers. Absolutely. I love the idea of accepting your ideas and and being creative, right? And partnering with people outside of both collegiately like both, you know, as colleagues and also outside of the school, the super cool ideas.
So I'd love to think about the people who are listening now there are a lot of people who are going to be, educators, they're learning guides in their own school. They are maybe leaders or heads of school, even family members as well, but people who are really helping to educate and help children learn. And I'm wondering what advice you would give them. So what advice would you give them in terms of what they can do to make that dream come to life and what action or thing can they, can they do to really be the type of educators and learning guides that you were just describing?
I would say so if you're a parent, I would challenge you to think how am I helping my kid to be ready for her or his future. If your school leader, I would challenge you to think how am I empowering my community to enable change. And if you're a teacher, I would challenge you to think how can I be the driver of change in my own community. And for everyone, I would suggest that we think or we remind ourselves to think more as a learner, so putting ourselves in the learners shoes and thinking about every single decision that we take or that we make, if we're doing it from the learner's perspective. Because sometimes we get caught into the routines and the status quo and we we keep forgetting the learner and at least for us what everything that we do is for the learner.
So I would invite everyone to, to think as if they were a learner.
Beautiful, Eden and Nico, did you have anything you wanted to say advice for teachers or learning guides?
That's totally okay, thank you. so this question is for for all of you, what is the school experience that you've had? It could be this year, it could be you know, previous years that helped you or influenced you the most.
What was a cool experience that you've had that makes you feel like "oh I love this" or that inspired you?
It was a lot different at my other school, you could choose what to do, like you could choose what to learn what you want to learn and you were more like a bit free because from the other school we needed to sit all the time and write on your paper and that was, and you learn a lot of English. Like when I came here I know not a lot of english and now I think I can speak english.
Yeah, I mean you've, you've you've grown so much in English and you got it in a year, so you should be very proud of yourself, I totally agree. And what about you, Eden, what is an experienced here and LearnLife that has inspired you or that was different from your previous school?
My other school, like they'd give you something to do and if you did not understand it, you'd have to stay through snack break and you'd have to work and then when there was like one minute left you could go out and have a breather but then you'd have to come straight back up. But here it's different, you get to stop, you get to have a snack and then another day you get to finish it.
And for me school experience that I had um I guess that I would pick um when I was a teenager I suffered from bullying and I think that has helped me in my professional growth as an educator. Because I keep reminding myself how learners feel socially in the classroom or at school and there are sometimes they are invisible and if there's not a safe space for them, they will never share how they feel and they will be trapped in this nightmare that they're experiencing.
So for me that was eye opening and one of my goals is to ensure that we have a safe space and that we empower them to emotional education and and that the culture for learning here is very positive and that's why I was stressing so much the idea of positive relationships.
Thank you so much for sharing that. I think that's so important. Sometimes we only think, and I think Eden's answer speaks to that as well too, right? That you have to do this work at the expense of everything else. You can't have snack time, you can't focus on the social well being of children and that clearly isn't what people want, right? Like Eden was saying it's way better to have snack time and then be able to to finish your work later or just pay attention to, you know, how kids are doing in the larger like, you know, whole self that they bring to school, not just in academics. And you know, Nico to your point, I think it's really powerful, you said that we are choosing right? Where I love your quote, you you're kind of you're a bit free, right?
Like in this new school that you're in now, right? Compared to your previous school and I'd love to hear, you know what are some of the things, just to give people an idea, I think the way that you all learn in your current school is really different from maybe some of the people who are listening, the schools they've been to as children or the schools they teach at now. And so could you tell me a little bit about, you know, what's a project or what's a thing that you have chosen to learn about recently in one of your classes?
So for impassioned projects for example, can you tell them what what that's about?
So passion projects, you choose a project which you wanted to do what you want to do and then you get the credit and you have to like um write, how many materials you need, how long do you think it'll take you? And then once you're done on Fridays, there is community meeting where you get to show your project to the whole school.
That sounds amazing. So what were some of the passion projects that you both have been working on?
I'm gonna make a lamp and I'm also doing a bakery with two other friends of mine.
That's incredible. Nico what about you?
I really like super heroes, like Marvel characters. So I decided to build, trying to build like a cardboard Iron Man suit.
That is really cool. Oh, that's so awesome, wow, you are impressive learners. I am very excited to to hear more about these projects later on when you're done. That's so great. So as we are kind of coming to the close of the episode, I would love for you to share either something that you wish that listeners would do. I know you were talking about advice earlier or if it's easier, what's the most important thing that we talked about today that you want people to remember as they stop listening to the episode and go about the rest of their day.
Any ideas? What is something they would like the viewers to remember, well what you said or the most important thing?
To hear other people's opinions and not just do whatever you want, it's Friday tomorrow.
For me it's again not to to recall our ourselves as learners and our past experiences in school and reflect on that and see what is the impact that we can make with with that mindset.
Excellent suggestions. as one of the questions I really like to ask as just kind of a fun question at the end and I think I kind of asked this already of Eden and Nico but feel free to add something else. You know what is something that you have been learning about lately and so for Guille, I think one of the things I think about is you know, as adults sometimes and learning guides um that commitment as you were saying earlier to constantly grow is so important and so just to kind of model that we are always learning as well as adults. You know something that you've been learning about lately.
I totally agree with you. Here we see ourselves also as learners. So I'm currently being a learner in surfing and I started learning how to surf actually.
I remember Eden last year. Yeah, exactly. You were giving me some tips which I have been using lately. so I always remember you when, when I surf. Yeah, for me it's it's having a growth mindset, surfing. It's challenging but very exciting. What about you guys, what is something that you have been learning lately?
I've been learning how to play the piano since last christmas and I think I've improved quite a lot but I still have to learn how to read better. What about you Nico? Learned like in natural systems or Explora or...
I don't know.
It is hard to be interviewed. So I understand you'll think of something amazing that you want to say later. I'm sure. Awesome. Well thank you all for sharing. And is there anywhere that if someone who's listening really wants to check out more about the work that your school is doing or if your your school has a website or wants to connect, is there somewhere that people can go to?
Just follow the great stuff that that's happening?
Yeah, I mean they can log in to LearnLife.com and then follow us in our social media channels. We're on Instagram, Facebook Twitter LinkedIn.
Perfect. I will link to those in the show notes too so people can be able to click those easily and I just want to say one more time to, Eden and Nico thank you so much for taking time out of your day to, to speak with us and to speak to the listeners. I really appreciate you all being on the podcast.
Thank you. Thank you for for the time and congratulations for your podcast.
Thanks for listening amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsayblyons or leave a review of the show. So leaders like you will be more likely to find it. To continue the conversation you can head over to our time for teacher ship facebook group and join our community of educational visionaries. Until next time leaders continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
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Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.