As a tip for educators, David Neils, director of the International Telementor Program, says projects that include the following elements will ensure that students are truly engaged, informed and connected to their learning and can experience what he distinguishes as ‘authentic’ learning:
1. Students are making a real-world difference working with leaders to address local issues (or in some cases, specific state, regional or international issues) as identified by those leaders.
2. Examples of excellence are known, shared and students set the bar high for quality work.
3. All student work goes through a process of mulitple iterations, the practice and process of student draft, mentor review, refined student draft, and so on.
4. Student-mentor collaboration is required for students to move forward with their projects.
“This is as much a journey for the teacher as it is for his or her students,” says David. “It’s a rare classroom where these attributes are flourishing. But we’re making headway thanks to our mentors and a handful of pioneer teachers and students,” he says. David writes more about what authentic learning means here.