15 Oct My Inner Pollyanna’s Ed Reform Blue Sky
Even amid the heated debates & discourse, my inner Pollyanna still dream’s big. Here’s my blue sky, if I had my way:
1. United Teachers
They become a force to be reckoned with. Politicians, news outlets, and policy makers take notice and make room at the table. They ask teachers questions like, “What can we do to attract more of your ilk to the profession, and then keep you once you’re there?” For their part, teachers capitalize on the collaborative curve and explore new frontiers of pedagogy.
(Doesn’t mean they don’t disagree. Unity isn’t panacea. Discourse & debate leads to insight.)
2. Arm Chair Experts Think
The general public allows the recent single story focus to be the proverbial foot in the door. Nuanced perspectives, ideas, and ground floor realities become the swell that swings the door wide open. Before snapping to judgement based on simple talking points, the average citizen listens & reflects on a broad range of points of view.
3. Long Term Visioning
We decide, “You know, this horse race mentality to improving schools only offers short term gains. Let’s start planting seeds today that will bear fruit in the next generation. Let’s envision the types of learning environments that lead to transformative learning experiences, and set a course toward them.”
4. USA’s Finland
We talk highly of our teachers, create environments that allow them to connect with each student, cultivate incentives that attract & keep the best and the brightest, put 3 teachers in each classroom, implement lean standards that encourage educator autonomy, and pay all teachers a professional’s living wage.
5. Whole Child Education
It becomes accepted practice to think of the whole child when we think about making a difference in students’ lives. We look to Geoffrey Canada’s cradle to college model and realize it is worth the time, money and effort to honestly give all children the services they and their family need to prepare them for life.
6. Teaching Career Ladder
The young and ambitious see topography in the education field. We integrate teacher leadership models that balance teaching students with teaching teachers, developing curricula, and/or working in administration, thereby offering compelling challenges to our most inspired new talent.
7. Motivated Students
Students see school as a place that cultivates their dreams and gives them an authentic opportunity to apply skills in novel and meaningful contexts. They feel valued as individuals, yet pushed to be their best. At school, students feel loved, accepted and driven.
8. Curriculum of Relevance
Taking advantage of the copious resources technology provides, teachers are able to tailor curricula to meet the needs and interests of the immediate community, balancing lean national standards with nuanced homegrown lessons & units. Students engage in lessons that take them beyond the classroom walls and into their communities.
9. Concept Labs
Making school relevant means increasing connections between schools, teachers, admin, parents, and the needs of neighborhoods, cities, states, country, & globe. Students become experienced and versed in current ideas and concepts. Partnerships between researchers and educators provide students exposure to raw materials and industry problems, priming them for tackling more complex issues as adults. They graduate job skill ready.
10. Equitable Collaboration
Vested interests in education have equal seats at the table. Students, parents, teachers, admin, and policy makers all have a voice helping to shape where we are going. Listening happens.
11. Enlightened Philanthropy
Philanthropists, businesses & tax payers realize that the quality of educational programming at schools like Sidwell Friends (where Obama’s girls attend) necessitates cultivating the conditions in those schools in all public schools — charter or not.
12. Rhetoric Stimulus Package
What we talk about when we talk about education.
We use terms such as engaging, relevance, vigor, integration, investigation, creativity, differentiation, whole child, creativity, application, communication, media-literacy, technology, service learning, and equal access in addition to accountability, standards, basic skills and achievement.
13. Teacher Training
The best and the brightest are recruited, trained in both practical skills & pedagogical theory, and given ample opportunity to apprentice under seasoned teachers. Their professional development is personalized to help ensure they enter the classroom prepared and passionate, and stay that way.
Students, teachers, & admin are not judged by test alone. We develop more nuanced evaluative tools for targeting specific responsibilities that lead to our goal of developing . . .
15. Life Long Learners
The primary goal of our learning institutions is to help students become life long learners. We find that with the right conditions curiosity can survive an education. Students graduate able to research and investigate a broad range of topics. They find that those skills can be applied to whichever field of study they choose to pursue.
Students look back and realize that their education provided the building blocks for constructing the lives of their dreams.