Over the past several weeks, I have been given the opportunity to visit three schools in other cities in our province. If you have an opportunity to visit a school outside of your district or city, I strongly encourage it. Spending time in other learning environments has both affirmed and broadened my thinking. After each visit, I returned home with a renewed passion for my role.
In each school we encountered engaged students and exemplary teaching.
- Students were engaged in meaningful, relevant and interesting projects.
- The projects were carefully, purposefully planned. Integration happens across subjects and grade levels.
- Students were central to the learning process.
- Teachers and staff were facilitating or coaching the learning rather than directing it.
So I ask myself, how did these schools get to this point?
I believe it started by thinking outside of the box…a bit cliche right?!?!? But, so true!
In education we get stuck:
- We get stuck in tradition or the traditional way of doing things. We get comfortable with “our” way. The “we” and the “our” being the adults in the building. Instead of focusing on the adults we need to refocus on the students. Our students are screaming for less-tradition and more innovation.
- We get stuck in a routine or a schedule. “We have to teach Language Arts at this time…” “We need to move on to our Science block now.” Learning becomes compartmentalized by our schedules and timelines. Learning is messy and should not fit into a compartment of time.
- We get stuck in excuses. “Well, if only I had more time to plan.” “What will the community think?” “What if parents hate it?” Excuses are easy. There are a million excuses for a million things. I tire of excuses quickly. We need to move past them.
What if we began to think outside of the box, what if we tried to get “unstuck?” What would it look like? What are the possibilities?
I saw what it looked like at three separate schools…and I have to say this is kind of how I feel…
Back to my initial quote… If we don’t make changes, we are going to continue to see more of the same results. I would even challenge that to say that our results are going to decline. Our students are demanding a different style and type of learning.
I can see what I believe education should look like for students, now how do we get out of the box?