I recently shared the article Reinventing School and the video Transforming Education with our Leadership Team and asked them consider what we can do moving forward. It has generated a great dialogue and this is an edited version of one of my responses.
When it comes to change we all have a bit of frustration. Myself included and it may show in what I write below.
I’m not in anyway trying to offend anyone and say that anyone is doing a bad job. All I’m saying is we need to evaluate how we “do school.”
I agree on Googling. My philosophy is if a student can Google the answer then it isn’t a good question to begin with.
The term “smartest person in the room” is referring to expanding how and who we learn with. We are all going to see how we collaborate change. We have isolated ourselves over the years and it is about to change. We are going to start collaborating with districts outside our own. I also encourage you all to collaborate via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook or whatever medium you prefer, if you aren’t. We don’t always have to reinvent the wheel, but we can make the wheel much better if we learn from those already doing “it.”
Do we know what students need to know? Does our curriculum match what students need to know?
Every job I’ve had I have learned “on the job” because the curriculum and what I was taught was not current with what was happening “in the real world.”
I’m not saying we “break the rules” and not follow the curriculum, but we have to match it to what students need by allowing students to follow their “passions.” When we allow students to communicate, collaborate, create, critical think, compute, and connect then we are on to something. These 6 C’s are what make the world go ’round.
When I state “if we fail, what’s the harm?” I mean this: We are fortunate here to have students coming prepared and they learn despite us sometimes. They have great families who provide them opportunities and resources to learn at and outside of the school setting. Not all, but most. We are one of a few schools in our area with this “luxury.” What I’m saying is we can do school in a different way and our students won’t suffer, in my opinion. I’m not saying we go away from the basics, but not all of our students need “the basics.”
We have to find ways to personalize learning for students. Visit a classroom where students are working on Genius Hour/20% time projects. . . it can be messy, loud, and look like students aren’t learning sometimes, but they are engaged, focused, and learning – sometimes not even realizing it because they are so focused on a subject matter they are passionate about they get lost in the moment.
I learn so much from watching how Seely learns. He has access to so much information as a kindergartner it is amazing the knowledge he has in the subject matters he is passionate about and he is learning the ‘basics’ as well. However, he is also being held back in some ‘school’ subjects. For example, the math goal last week was to say/write numbers from 0 – 30. He’s been able to do this for almost 2 years! Don’t get me wrong, he has an amazing teacher and she is pushing him further, but what if she didn’t. He would be disengaged and bored. We have many students like this in our classrooms.
So, what are we doing for those students who have the content we are teaching mastered?
Are we assessing students and teaching to all in the room/team or are we personalizing and providing students the extra push they need to move forward as they pursue their passion?
I understand preparing students for high school or whatever may be next for them, but again we can’t allow that to confine what we do. . . and we can’t allow a test to confine or paralyze us and what we do or don’t do.
I hear what you all are saying about “old school” or “traditional” not being bad. It’s not, but our students are different than us, just like the generations before us was different.
Our challenge is in front of us. . .it is being driven by the direction from our leadership and if we don’t change we (school) will become the Kodak of the film industry and our students and families will find a different product to use (i.e. school).
I’m not saying I’m right, but I’m saying I am reading the ‘writing on the wall’ and it is very clear to me. I see what ‘innovative’ schools are doing.
It won’t be easy. It will be messy. We will have roadblocks. We will stumble along the way. We will question and wonder if we are making a difference. But honestly, isn’t that already the case?
We have the toughest jobs in the world – educating the future – and many times it can be thankless and without reward, but there is nothing more I’d rather do :-) and do with you ALL!
We have the talent in this building to do amazing things and transform how we do school. . .
You all are amazing teachers and can make this happen. . .I know it and believe it!