How to fit in.

2 06 2018

Interesting thoughts have been churning in my mind.  I’ve been reflecting on how many years I have been teaching and how much has changed in education.  I find myself thinking less about my career as a single subject and much more about educating and exploring individual growth of my students beyond a single subject.

As an educator approaching almost 30 years of teaching, I see my role much differently than I ever did in the past.  I’m wondering why I am feeling this way.  Is it that I am a Choice Art educator, my own multiple interests in learning, or my desire to expand?  Then I am left with questions of: How do I expand? What would this look like?  Is it possible?  In what way does this fit with my current position?  Can I push this into an actual idea? 

I do have many ideas on how it can be possible but to get the current structures of a school schedule to adapt to my ideas is very challenging.

I’m very interested in expanding into curricular areas that merge with arts in a real way.  I envision a large lab setting with outside access to nature like a field, trees, garden, and water.  I envision an outdoor class shelter with equipment available to construct, plant, and build. The educators and the students create criteria based on benchmarks that need to be met for graduation.  Students then turn to their imagination as to how to demonstrate and make their learning visible.  I see real life problems being solved and movements being carried forward; lead with student voice and choice.  I see corporations and organizations supporting and helping to elevate the students’ ideas into reality. 

I know it will be hard work but I can see my students intrinsically motivated to perform the work and that extends beyond the class period. I can envision students collaborating and creating solutions and designs to propel further good works. 

Great ideas are not created while sitting still.  Ideas percolate over time and arrive while actively creating or doing something.  Some of the best ideas happen while doing things like gardening, showering, walking, and playing.  Why can’t we accelerate that by providing larger amounts of time to focus on a concept and fiddle around with it?  Offer up a couple of educators to guide the process and support the ideas by providing experts on the subject.

Will students be more engaged and confident in striving to do the research, proof out ideas, fail and try again, apply divergent thinking, and learn how to communicate the ideas?  I believe the answer is YES. 

Does this mean we need to let go to traditional classroom physical walls and schedules?  YES.

Do educators need to pair up and organically work with each other and the community to bridge the unknown?  YES.

Do stakeholders in the school community need to find pathways to help support the learning experiences for the students?  YES.

Raising and educating young people isn’t the task of the school system alone.  We are to work as a community of parents, leaders in the area, and exceptional educators.  We need to all take an interest in what is working in the system to inspire young people.  What education looked like when their parents attended school is not how we should be doing education now.  Our schools should be one of the most vibrant hubs in the community where everyone wants to be a part of and everyone knows what is happening. Communities need to go to school functions hosted by our young people and hear, observe, and learn.  We need to do our best for the most important resource we have and that is our young people.

I have witnessed and experienced the power and enthusiasm of young people.  Our current world events have forced our young people to be more active in the world and they can do it.

I want to be a part of this kind of learning and doing.  I am much more interested finding inventive ways of creating this type of system.  I believe this is how I should be spending the rest of my career.  Now.  How do I make it happen?

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