(Some people will read that title and think of a teenage supernatural romance novel. Being of a certain age and a certain lack of coolness, recipe I think of the Psychedelic Furs album.)
The Workshop yesterday morning was buzzing. Students scattered throughout the building. Some working alone, order some with each other, some with adults. Lots of laughter and calling back and forth between rooms. Most students on their computers. Some bounced back and forth from one group to another. One student did so a bit too exuberantly, tripped on the rug, smashed into the wall and crumpled on the floor. (Much laughter; the student was fine.) Some hunched over their keyboards, headphones in, trying to block out the din. If your idea of a good school is a place where everyone sits at their individual desks, looking at the blackboard and working quietly, you would NOT have liked what you saw.
If, on the other hand, your idea of a good school is a place where students are fully, totally, completely engaged in their work, you would have found the scene as amazing as I did. I spent most of the morning working with the Bright Ideas Project (see the Student Projects page for more info). One student was working on their business plan, two others on a short documentary, another on a brochure. All of it needs to be completed by next week. The common thread across all of the activities was figuring out how to make the work as strong as possible. At one point, the team in the next room asked one of students to come over and explain a bit more about what the business plan was for and how she was pulling it together. A (mostly) friendly rivalry is developing among the teams, who are now engaged in an all-out recruiting war for adult support. Those of us who agree to help out students from more than one team (or even those working independently) get our loyalties questioned.
School reform is serious, important stuff. So much so that we often forget how much fun learning can be.