Sunday, March 16, 2014

So Many Considerations for Education Today

Like a million tears, the wind-blown
waters of the 9/11 pools gently splashed against
us, yet in the pool, like a beacon of hope,
a rainbow shimmered. 
As I followed the New England Google Summit and ASCD14 on Twitter and email while participating in a number of activities in New York City this weekend, I was struck by the vibrancy and potential of the world around us.

While walking down Fifth Avenue I saw one display of creativity after another with design related to architecture, clothing, signage, vehicles, foods, and more. It was a feast for my eyes. Similarly all around me I could hear multiple languages spoken--harmony. On Saturday night I had the chance to see one of our former student's first off-Broadway play--a wonderfully staged story, and a tribute to the young man's creativity, collaboration, and depth. I also visited the Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower and marveled at the vision, engineering, and design displayed by both buildings. The tweets from ASCD14 and The Google Summit chorused for me a similar vibrancy and potential with regard to the processes, tools, and efforts possible to build dynamic learning communities in every school for every child.

We live in a world of tremendous potential for positive acts, beauty, collaboration, and learning.

Signs of how that work could go awry also exist. The 9/11 Memorial Site brought tears to my eyes as I watched individuals from all over the world pay tribute to so many innocent individuals who lost their lives that day, and the sad and scary news reports related to the Malaysian flight also stood as as reminder that we are not without challenges. It's not a perfect world.

The Freedom Tower is an amazing tribute to those
who lost their lives, and an amazing example of
the creativity possible when people work together
with knowledge and mission. 
What can we do with all this stimulation and possibility? How can we funnel this energy into our school work and practice so that every child leaves our lessons, classrooms, schools, and systems with a solid foundation of skill, concept, knowledge as well as hopes, dreams, and vision for a good life and better world? A challenge further ignited by an article in the Boston Globe about gifted students today.

First, we need to think about our own actions--what do we model each and every day? Do we model the behaviors, actions, and efforts we want to see our students display and engage in.

Next, we need to focus on the activity we engage students in at school--do we provide learning experiences that empower and educate with depth, meaning, and investment? Do the learning experiences we sponsor ready students with enthusiasm and ability for the world they live in now and will live in during the future?

After that, we need to think about our learning community--are we reaching all students with strength and care, and if not, what can we do to invigorate our efforts and reach in that regard?

There is much to consider in education today, and strong school communities, both educators and leaders,  will take the questions above seriously by discussing what it means to be mentors who model and facilitate meaningful learning experiences for all students' engagement, empowerment, and success. I look forward to that ongoing conversation as I continue to work to meet these challenges with regard to my charge as a fourth grade teacher.