Our Matador Innovative Teaching Academy participants are winding up their first book study, discussing What School Could Be, by Ted Dintersmith. In the discussion materials on the book’s website, I came across this video, which I promptly sent out to our innovative teachers and our district leadership. It is a fundamental question that, frankly, we don’t really hash out like we should: What is school for? Watch the video and think about it. Talk with your colleagues, your students, your stakeholders, and see how tough it is to come up with a consensus on the topic. Share your answer in the comments, if you reach a conclusion!
Another impact of the Simon Sinek book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action is that I have been giving thought to how I could put my why into one concise, easily understood statement. While not ready to declare it as final, the following is the current incarnation:
To facilitate meaningful and engaging learning experiences that equip students to reach their dreams.
Here are a few key elements:
Facilitate–my role is to provide tools, training, resources needed for learning.
Meaningful–meaning is a highly personal thing, and we should look for and offer diverse learning opportunities and technologies reflective of the outside world
Engaging–while digital learning tools are exciting to a large percentage of kids, they do not equal engagement by default. The focus still needs to be on powerful classroom practice that pulls learners in.
Experiences–with a nod to John Dewey, learning is most effective within the context of powerful experiences. Do the technologies and strategies I promote create these?
Equip…their dreams–we as educators are beholden to standards. Goals for our students are dictated from ivory towers and governments. Ultimately, however, I think most of us could see no higher level of success than if our students returned to us to tell us of big dreams we inspired and how they achieved those dreams.
Finally, another thought hit me yesterday: What would it look like if we taught our kids to articulate their whys?How might making these concrete affect how our students approach learning? Would our schools even fit their whys at all?