MERIDIAN, Idaho — This week's Innovative Educator is a firm believer in not giving too much homework. In his Meridian classroom, he wants students to learn how to prioritize just like they will have to do in the real world.
Mr. Brian Cosio wants his Spanish class to be interactive, engaging and fun. Ninth-graders Casey Van Pattern and Millie Bledsoe really enjoy his style.
"Normally the teacher just kind of sits in front of the class and just kind of preaches, whereas [Cosio] goes around and pays special attention to every individual student," said Van Pattern.
"Cosio's class is super interactive and he's always asking questions and having us be really engaged," said Bledsoe.
He started teaching at Compass Public Charter School four years ago after graduating from the University of Idaho.
"It's the kids, I mean, I 100% believe I have the best job in the world because every day I come into school and it's not that I get bogged down with the teaching I get to know the students. I get to build a relationship, I get to see them grow, and they help me grow," Cosio said.
He says for the first 15 minutes of class they just have a conversation and it's an important part of his teaching philosophy.
"That's building that relationship and if they feel like their teacher knows who they are, knows what's going on in life, then the learning is just easier," Cosio said.
New this year is flexible seating in Cosio's classroom. He is convinced it makes for a better learning environment.
"When I did the flexible seating this wasn't because I just wanted a cool space," Cosio explained. "It's because I know some of my kids have the wiggles, and they have to get those wiggles out. So giving them an opportunity to have a balance board to shake on or be able to sit on the ground and move around the stools, all of those things are just more genuine to them."
Cosio also regularly gets insight from the students about how they learn best.
"If I take into account what their learning preferences are, how they want to test, then they have a say in how they learn and so then they're going to be more engaged in the learning," Cosio said.
His students appreciate his understanding too when it comes to homework. He gives them a 'cut me a break, homes' card and students can use it throughout the school year to get a pass on assignments. Cosio says the card helps the teenagers learn how to prioritize their time.
"If kids have ownership, if kids feel seen as people first and not just as students, they respond appropriately," Cosio said.
It's an approach that has worked well for him and his students.
"They buy into it, they enjoy what they're learning," he said.
Cosio is still raising money for the flexible seating in his classroom. He would like to bring in some more pieces of furniture. You can find more information here.
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