From Lausanne, Marie Legrand shares her educational project with us by videoconference. First, as a teacher, and now as a self-employed, the common thread of her motivation has always been sharing. Endowed with unfailing desire and a contagious smile, the founder of “Forts ensemble” has agreed to look back on her career and the current challenges posed by education.
After six months as a teacher at the start of her career, Marie Legrand decided to return to university and became a Doctor of Educational Sciences. “To teach, you must constantly renew yourself,” she confides to us. Her entire career reflects this conviction. She decides to write her thesis on imagination as an essential element of learner engagement. This is how her first project was born: the publication of her book Libérerez l’imagination*.
Feeling better armed and confident, Marie Legrand, returned to teaching and turned her classroom into a laboratory. The desire to do always more and better pushed her to develop new teaching practices. Because the school environment was not enough for her, she decided to carry out her own initiatives. Her goal? The success of each learner, according to their own pace of learning.
An entrepreneur and a pedagogue
Ideas. Always more ideas. Throughout her teaching career, and throughout the podcast available here, Marie Legrand has developed entrepreneurial thinking. This reflection led her to the creation of her own company Forts ensemble, in which she is now a consultant and trainer.
This fruitful association between the teacher and the Entrepreneurial Mindset, which the books Edupreneurial Pivot describes in-depth, appears in the many actions carried out by Marie Legrand. The most recent? Share weekly videos during COVID lockdown to help parents with homeschooling. Motivated students, relieved parents: this is how Marie Legrand suggests supporting the ecosystem. “While parents are discovering things about their children, they are also rediscovering themselves. At the end of the day, they are very thankful,” says Marie Legrand.
“There are obvious similarities between teaching and coaching in business,” says Marie Legrand. Since she began working in the entrepreneurial environment, she has found a distinct point of convergence: relationship problems. “Finally, we find strong common points. We can guess what the educational background of the one who, during his coaching, cannot remain seated and must always be on the move, or of the one who has the answers and who can not help speaking. None of these characteristics is a problem, but they must be identified and taken into account.” School is an institution that connects us all, and which can bring forth in us the best memories and the worst. There is a pupil behind each adult.
Inspired by her corporate experience, Marie Legrand had the idea of developing the 4Colors® method within the School. She describes this method as a new response to classroom issues**.
According to the behavioral characteristics linked to the four colors (red, yellow, green, and blue), teaching methods are offered to the pupils who are divided into different groups. “These are not groups organized according to abilities, because there again, we don’t want to lose confidence in the learner. These are rather groups of personalities allowing each individual to be respected according to his/her learning preferences,” explains Marie Legrand. After using this method in different classes for years, she co-authored a second book: Apprendre en couleurs – Le guide pratique pour libérer l’apprentissage des élèves.*** In the book, Marie describes four pathways for each learner. Everybody can aim for the top, in his/her own way.
Already before joining the entrepreneurial environment, Marie Legrand was multiplying innovative proposals. Change, sharing, success, three things that made her a leader. This aspect is also striking in our interview with Marie Legrand.
How to find simple and quick solutions within the School? Marie Legrand created Tea Time, an hour during which volunteer teachers come after lessons to discuss targeted themes, over tea and delicacies. “The themes varied each week, for example, flipped classroom, attention. People showed up at each session.”
This initiative reveals something that the Pivot theorized for all educational minds: the teacher deserves to be put at the heart of the process. As soon as he is given a place and an opportunity to change things, he becomes active. The main thing is to be on the move, even with small steps. One small step for the teacher, one big step for the School? During the Tea Time sessions, Marie Legrand sought to challenge her colleagues, to make them aware that they can change things using simple and quick tools. The Tea Time project is an effective way to find cost-free and straightforward solutions. “We often talk about the budget, but the budget is not always the problem,” Marie Legrand adds.
As a hybrid professional (half teacher-half entrepreneur), Marie Legrand refuses failure. Having a flair for solutions, she specifies that she is not there to provide THE solution. She manages to bring people together (parents, students, teachers, entrepreneurs) around achievable and straightforward initiatives. “There is no room for failure in business, and I would like it to be the same in School. I have always refused to see one of my students fail “. To avoid failure, Marie Legrand chose to bet on parents, the School’s often forgotten ones.
Parent-teachers: Towards a true partnership
Marie Legrand observes that Parents can rightly feel destitute. While teachers and parents have always had a checkered relationship, Marie Legrand wants to integrate parents at the heart of her initiatives to create a true partnership. “Teachers and parents should no longer stand on their own,” she says. However rare they may be, exchanges are mostly negative: notes, behavioral problems, ineffective communication, etc. Thanks to her Facebook videos and her coaching sessions, Marie Legrand wishes to reconcile these two essential parties for the child’s academic success. That way, their exchanges become a sharing based on the positive.
Marie Legrand is convinced that the teacher’s know-how must be shared and that the child must be at the heart of this partnership between parents and teachers. As a result, the parent becomes a real actor and obtains an essential role in the education of his child. In contrast, the parent was, until now, only the passive receiver of feedback and remarks.
Giving parents the role of allies also means giving them the keys to understanding. Marie Legrand mentions the example of a student who could not do her homework. The mother described the daily nightmare upon returning from School. A mother who imposed a strict and formal framework for her daughter to do her homework. In front of her was a distracted child who found it impossible to work in this imposed framework and who felt a need to feel free and be able to move around. Marie Legrand gave the mother the means to understand her daughter and meet her learning needs. The mother agreed to grant her daughter the freedom of movement. “I have to admit that seeing my daughter doing her homework in different places, always on the move, was a little disturbing for me. But in the end, his homework was done”. Through this process – that of understanding the child – there is an issue of acceptance and trust. This anecdote leads to the following conclusion: to have confidence in the result, even if the means to achieve it may be different or not ordinary.
Restoring confidence is an element that came up often during our discussion with Marie Legrand. Restore confidence to students who have been stigmatized because of their difficulties. Restore confidence to those whose learning preferences have not been taken into account until now. Restore confidence to parents, who themselves feel helpless because of their school background, relationship gaps with their children, and the teacher’s lack of interaction with the teacher. Restore confidence in teachers who, because of a failing system, do not see the means at their disposal to become agents of change.
To bring all of her ideas to life, Marie Legrand has chosen to complement the fundamental design of the School with something more, with a partnership. Her project, based on the parent-child-teacher relationship triangle, aims to untie knots so that no one is left by the wayside on the road to success.
The School needs to reinvent itself. To meet this need, Marie Legrand explains that the School must be more open and that teachers must bring what happens in the classroom to the outside. So that everyone contributes to the other, Marie Legrand brings the Entrepreneurial Mindset into the School and shares the School’s Best Practices outside the classroom.
To go further, the latter wishes to offer distance training for children and parents.
Our Zoom interview ends on a promising and hopeful note. Marie Legrand is convinced that “everyone’s success is not easy, but it is possible. “
*Free the Imagination
**The interview of Marie Legrand contains detailed explanations on this method.
***Learning in Color – The Practical Guide to Free Student Learning
Translated from English by David Claivaz