What are Margins
“Margins are those interfaces between woods and fields, the land and the sea, along abandoned railroad tracks and highways, between residential areas, along flooding and receding rivers, between prairies and forests, and at the seashore. These areas are places where DIVERSITY in species EXISTS, where life is often RISKIER for its inhabitants, and where species have the freedom to FLOURISH and EXPERIMENT”– Ann E. Haley-Oliphant
Staying in the “center” of the classroom
Margins cannot exist without the “center”. That being said, these classroom environments are typically monocultural and are a place where students feel constrained. Staying in the “center” emphasizes the teachers control over the flow of the interaction, information, and discourse of the classroom. Static environments like these do not help students to create a growth mindset.
- Lecture heavy
- Textbook-based instruction
- Lack of curiosity and wonder
- Teacher holds control
- Risk of Disenfranchisement
- Fosters homogenous thought, talk, and action
- Doesn’t allow student imagination, wondering, and speculation to flourish
Moving to the Margins
Teaching should start in the “center” and when the opportunity arises, the lesson should move to the margins. The margins are healthier places for teachers and their students to experience science. Even though teachers release control over the lesson when in the margins, they still actively participate through conversation with students and the subject matter. Instructional margins create more space for teachers and students to share personal experiences as well as deepen their connection to not only each other, but the material in a meaningful way.
- Student-led discussion
- Incorporates inquiry-based and project-based learning activities
- Facilitated discussions
- Teacher gives up some control to spark student engagement
- CONNECTING KNOWLEDGE TO ACTION
- Allows students to enlarge their worldview of various topics
- Creates space for students to ask unpredictable and diverse questions
- Freedom for the learner to discover their own learning
Aren’t Teachable Moments & Teaching in the Margins the same?
How to Bring the Margins into the Classroom
- A curious question such as a fun “bell ringer”
- Brain busters get our brains working, promote divergent thinking and cooperative learning.
- Science related current events
- Adjust your schedule to allow time to take a trip to the margins
- Create space rather than dismissing student thought
- Be able to read your students
- non-verbal behavior!
- Adopting a class pet
We as educators need to incorporate these margins into our practices as often as possible. The margins are a place where students can EXPLORE NEW POSSIBILITIES. They are a place where students and teachers are able to EXPRESS IDEAS with one another and make CONNECTIONS freely. It may seem more risky or unsettling to take a trip to the margins but it’s where your students have the potential to FLOURISH.