I came across this Blog Hop last evening and I have been playing with the idea of what an innovative school could look like. With this notion in mind I was reminded of a project I worked on in undergrad, where I designed a dream classroom. Of course, the design of a dream classroom by a teacher in training with little experience in the actual classroom was more of a challenge than I realized setting in to it. There was just so much I didn't yet know about teaching, learning, managing and innovating in a classroom. I would like to think I know a little more now, but honestly, imagining a truly innovative school is a bit intimidating still, because I know more than I did back then. So I will forge on with this idea here, knowing these ideas are fluid and changing as each day passes and new information and innovation comes in to light.
To make way for innovation, formative, process oriented assessments with a continuum of benchmarks would replace standardized testing and provide useful information to students and teachers about what is next. Right now we spend so much time,even unintentionally, teaching kids to be the same. Yet we live in a world that, more than ever before, appreciates and advocates for individuals to be themselves, know themselves and find their path to happiness first. Prosperity will follow.
That leads me to my next innovation. Joy! Joy should be a big piece of everyday at school. Research supports that a happy brain is a learning brain, without joy the pathways to learning narrow. That means movement, choice, play, arts, creation and many new experiences to capitalize on the brain's natural ways of learning, and to increase students' exposure to the world and their likelihood of finding their own path to a happy/prosperous life.
Some of my best learning experiences have come after primary and secondary school where students of an age were plopped together for conformity's sake. Some of my best learning has happened and is still happening while collaborating with people of varied backgrounds and ages and abilities, because we have plenty of opportunities to learn from and teach each other and I find nothing more motivating or invigorating. My innovation school would combine children across ages and would combine educators in a collaborative teaching model where teachers with different levels of experience would work together daily. From my own experience with coteaching, The shared load reduces stress and increases a creative flow of ideas.
There is so much to think about when imagining a truly innovative school! I have at least implied, but want to state clearly the need for real life connections not only in what we teach but where we teach. Freedom of movement around our town and state at least will open the door to connecting learning with life. imagine if you weren't limited to one or two field trips a year! Which leads me to think about the physical space of school. I would want the school itself to be flexible with open areas, flexible furnishings that can be used and moved for multiple purposes, plenty of room for movement, collaboration, quiet spaces, and connections to the world outdoors through accessible outdoor spaces for play and learning and life. My most recent brainstorm would be for my innovative school to have it's own on site museum and I can't even begin to list all the possibilities for learning and connecting to the world and community that could provide.
Thank you for reading and sharing your own ideas, this was a great brain break for me this morning!
Severe cold crept into the region over the weekend, then a flurry gave way to steady snowfall. The kids were distracted with friends most of the day and I distracted myself with baking breads and keeping the fireplace crackling. My husband settled, restless, by the fireplace comfortable and warm yet unable to be fully at home.
Kids and I read, played games, colored, and chilled out while he rested, an air of anticipation separating us all ever so slightly. It was past dinner time and the children had just settled under their quilts for the night when the phone rang. "There it is." He said.
A hug and well wishes, and he was off to sit behind the wheel, lights flashing, and engine roaring over roads slick with snow, perhaps some ice soon. I picture him in his truck, With heat blasting too hot, to keep his windshield clean, and window open to keep his mind clear, as I hunker down myself, both cozy and restless by the fire with the television on and a book to occupy my mind into the cold night.
Had this thought the other day about raising boys. Mine seem to at times go out of their way to do and say things that drive me absolutely bonkers. They know, for instance that screaming Metallica lyrics at random quiet moments or chaotic moments like when we're all trying to get out of the house on time, are equally frazzling to my brain. Yet, just as often (and it's easy not to notice if I'm in bonkersville) they do things, like ask for a back rub before bed just like they have since they were toddlers, or find a way to make me something I have been talking about, that remind me they are still my little boys who somewhere under all the sass need every bit as much love and positive parenting as they ever did!
My husband said he thinks it's normal for moms and boys to go head to head with their tween/teen, maybe it is, but it feels like crap and then the snowball just gets bigger from there picking up steam as it goes. I live for those little moment when the snowball busts apart and there's just that shiny stone inside that started it all.