Sunday, June 17, 2018

New and Improved Learning Disrupts the Status Quo

Our team has been involved in a number of big projects at the end of the school year--these projects are new and/or improved and have somewhat disrupted the status-quo since the projects do not fit neatly into the traditional school day or environment.

These projects have demanded that we push the boundaries of traditional schedules, service delivery, and classroom set-up. For example to carefully edit 25 biography reports with students meant that the teacher was more like a tutor than a stand-up-in-the-front-of-the-room educator. That one-to-one tutoring which is so meaningful and rich means that the other 24 students have to guide their own learning with each other or independently while the classroom teacher is immersed in those edits.

Also to create a large number of cardboard arcade games and then host a cardboard carnival on the playground during lunch means that the desks have to be pushed aside to make room for those creative games and students have to eat their lunches outside while they run the games for younger children. It also means that there are lots of materials everywhere--materials to paint with, build with, and test multiple games.

Similarly for students to rehearse and produce a 76-cast member musical shifts schedules and spaces. The gym becomes a stage and traditional academic periods become play rehearsals. The same will be true this week for Rivers/Wetlands Week since the typical schedule will be replaced by field studies, grade-level presentations, study focused on rivers and wetlands, and a stewardship event.

Big projects as well as new and improved learning disrupts the status quo, and to do this well without upsetting everyone means we have to make some decisions together. We have to decide where these deep and meaningful projects fit in and we also have to decide what we are going to take out. We can't just pretend that adding new learning doesn't mean taking out some old-time traditional blocks.

We also have to think about staffing. New learning requires the same or more staffing, but the kind of staffing and schedules we need to meet are different. We have to think about how we will staff these special events in ways that matter for all.

New and improved learning as well as projects demand support too--educators can't do it alone as we need the support of administrators, family members, and others to make this a success.

I want to think more on all of this over the summer months as we plan school year 2018-2019. Onward.