For the last few weeks we’ve shared stories from teachers who go off script. The key theme in their stories—going off script can feel scary and messy, but authentic experiences that give students and teachers AHA! moments are what learning is all about. Eduardo Briceño calls this being in the learning zone.

In his 2016 TED Talk, “How to Get Better at the Things You Care About,” Briceño differentiates between learning zones and performance zones. He explains that learning zones are where we feel safe to make mistakes that lead to AHA! moments and growth. Briceño also notes that learning zones don’t just spontaneously appear. We need to create them—with intentionality. When we do, we can make the kind of mistakes that help us grow, rather than detract from our performance.

This is what happens when you go off script to bring authentic learning into school. You create a learning zone.

learning zoneAn exciting observation has been how students have given and received feedback on each others ideas related to the Borton Garden Shop (BGS). It has become okay to look at an idea, share likes and suggest changes. For seven year olds, that is huge!
–Molly Reed, Borton Elementary

off scriptStudents are excited to come to class everyday and want to know when they will be working on the business. They constantly want to be trying new things and share their thoughts about a possible new product with their classmates.
–Priscilla Fischback, Apollo Middle School

authentic learningMy students are more interested in these types of projects. They become more attuned to their abilities to compromise. They also communicate in much more meaningful and respectful ways with each other when brainstorming and problem solving. 
–Josh Ruddick, Santa Rita High School

If authentic learning zones increase student engagement, help them find purpose and agency for their own learning, and communicate more effectively, imagine what it could do for your professional learning network. Where do you create your learning zones?  When do you get to go off script?

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