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Operation Chickens

The Project Approach is a method of teaching where learning is integrated through the development of a student created and driven project. It makes learning meaningful and allows children agency in their own experiences. However, from a teacher’s perspective, it can also be a little scary!

In the beginning of the 2021 school year, my preschool class decided that they wanted a class pet. After further research and discussion, they decided that they wanted their class pet to be chickens. My inner child was so excited at the idea of having chickens, and wanted to pursue this project, but my teacher brain was thinking how in the world were we going to pull this off. A couple weeks passed and all my children were still talking about chickens, so I realized it was time for me to get on board. The only problem was that none of us, myself included, knew anything about constructing a chicken coop or taking care of chickens.

While this thought was intimidating, I realized that part of the beauty of The Project Approach is that no one is supposed to have all the answers, especially not the teachers. After all, if the teachers have all the answers and plan the outcomes, it is not truly child-driven. In the beginning, it really took a lot of letting go. I was nervous not only by my students using tools to build the coop, but also by the fact that what they built had to protect our chickens from the forest and its creatures around us. However, I quickly realized that failing is a part of the process. They have to fail so that they can learn from their mistakes, pick themselves up, and try something new.

And that is exactly what we did. There were setbacks. There were stall outs. There was failure. But, for an entire year, we didn’t give up, and we did it together. We were co-researchers, co-constructors, and continue to be co-caretakers - and I wouldn’t change that for anything. Through this project, I was reminded that my own learning journey will never truly be over and that one of the best things I can do for my students is to show them this in order to inspire their own lifelong love of learning.

-Madeline Cook


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