We spent yesterday, the three of us, in a conference room, with a cruddy air conditioning system and a noisy projector, grappling with the question of who we want to our students to be and what we want them to be able to do by the time they finish our program. This is one of those great inquiries that every teacher and every school ought to address on a regular basis and one of those topics that’s often the focus of school wide professional development.
When we finished (start at 9, wrap up at 4, with a lunch break to talk car parts and politics), Matt turned to us and said, “you know, we’re really doing it. We’re talking about it and we’re really going to do it.”
This is the difference between the way school usually operates and what we’re trying to do in building a program that can transition into a full school. I remember churning over questions like this in PD while knowing that the moment the school year started the ideas and ideals would be jettisoned, that the overwhelming nature of trying to navigate a complex institution where the teachers had no power, no hope, no voice, would quash whatever dreams existed in August.
Here, though, we were the teachers (and administrators, and lunch workers, and custodians, and counselors) who would be trying to make this happen. Our ideas, our flashes of insight, our blind spots, would all be at work come the first day of school. What’s scary (and sad) is how few folks working in schools get to feel this kind of empowerment. Instead of responding and compromising, why can’t we have schools where teachers plan how to create a transformative educational experience for their students and then really go do it?
(deep thoughts during this morning’s bike ride)
How do we put students in the same position, where they are arguing, deliberating, laughing, producing, working, all with a real goal in mind? How can we ensure that we model the processes we go through to complete our project? How do we demonstrate the processes based on respect and trust that make real work possible? How do we set up a space with the resources and community ethos so that they can bring their own projects to life?