Make School Different

Recently I was challenged by Kristin Keery Bishop to share my thoughts on how we can make schools different.  At same time, I am hesitant to share my thoughts because I do not want to sound critical of public education.  I love public education recognizing that we are never perfect.  I might sound repetitive of my colleagues, but these are my thoughts.

When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending that we don’t need help.  We all need help.  Open your doors!  Accept feedback!  Grow together!  Learn together!  There’s so much to being a teacher who can do it all alone?  No one.

When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending that we are using all available resources.  The demands of teaching requires us to rely on many resources; or at least you would think.  My thoughts are not isolated to physical resources (i.e. books and tech) but people.  What are the obstacles to using the right amount of resources?

When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending that we need more money.  More money does not equate a better school.  As Aviva points out, we can buy all the tech in the world and still not reach “the perfect school.”  The best schools are the ones who show genuine care and love of kids.  How much does genuine care and support cost?

When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending that interruptions are welcomed in schools.  Don’t get me wrong, some interruptions are important.  The purpose of school is to learn and improve metacognition.  Everything else is secondary. We must not be afraid to focus our attention on learning and away from everything else.

When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending that all teachers reflect in one way.  Many educators do not blog.  Even I don’t blog very often.  If teachers can be reflective of their practice, then maybe blogging is not their avenue of expression.  However, this leads me to trouble because . . .

I can not challenge anyone else to blog on this topic.  I think most bloggers have been challenged already.  I am pleased to fulfill my commitment.  The challenge I give is for other teachers to be reflective and share their thoughts.  If we are to reach an optimal level of collaboration, reflection is key.

One of my favourite stories is the Emperor’s New Clothes.  I never understood it as a child.  I love this blogging topic because we often pretend nothing is wrong.  With criticism, feedback and collaboration, our students benefit.  Until next time!

2039

 

7 Comments

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7 Responses to Make School Different

  1. Aviva

    A very brave post, Enzo, & I’m so glad that you took up Kristi’s challenge. Your last point is an interesting one to me. As you know, I’m a huge blogger and I love the fact that blogging allows me to look critically at my practice and make changes. Being public for me also seems to increase my accountability. But blogging is not the only way that we can reflect. Maybe the problem is that reflection leads to change, so if we’re not blogging, how are we showing that we’re changing (and thinking about these changes too)?

    Aviva

  2. Kristi Bishop

    Hi Enzo,
    I challenged you to this blog because, although I don’t know you very well, I am intrigued by your reflection and the things you are trying in your classroom. Your reflection here has given me lots to think about and I really appreciate that. I have been trying, since @dougpete blogged earlier this week, to read these Make Schools Different to see what within them I could substitute “I” for we…what is personally challenging to my beliefs and practices? I will admit that your first point is one that has been very challenging for me the last few years. I need to collaborate more, let others take on responsibilities and leadership and (ack!) control. Thank you for that reminder. I will keep on working on that.
    I am interested in your comment about welcoming interruptions vs being focused. Again, maybe I’m drawing on my more recent experiences, but interruptions make up a huge part of my day. People are complicated, with many needs, and when those complicated people are thrown together with other complicated people lots of stuff happens. I am a huge proponent of getting to student thinking (huge. Like I can’t even tell you how often I talk about this!) but I also know that sometimes other things have to come first to allow for an environment where that thinking can happen to its fullest potential. Whether that is building conditions for learning, dealing with mental health, physical well being needs, or developing self confidence and respect, I have found that sometimes those interruptions are crucial to allow learning to move forward. This leaves me wondering why I’m not seeing interruptions the same way you are. I would love to know more of your thoughts here. If interruptions are seen by other teachers the way you see them, that would help me to better manage needs in my school.
    Thanks for writing Enzo! You have given me lots to think about.

    • Thanks for the reply Keery! We are virtual collaborators! Maybe it’s the time of year. But I often find that there are so many interruptions to classroom learning. Collecting money, assemblies and even extra-curriculars can be distracting. All of the above are important with the right level of moderation. It often seems that interruptions occur all in the same short period of time. I have nothing against fundraisers or extra-curriculars because they build community. But we have to be mindful of when they occur. As a school team, we should look at the school calendar and find that moderation. As a LRT, I find students see their school day as a roller coaster ride. Slowing the pace and prioritizing learning and time-on-task is key. Do we post dates on school calendars to claim time? To prevent others from booking at the same date? Having so much going on is both a blessing and an obstacle.

    • Now that I think of it “interuptions” is probably the wrong word for these school activities. But moderation is still something we should consider.

  3. Kristi Keery Bishop

    Thanks for your response, Enzo. That makes a lot of sense. Setting conditions within a school and classroom that allows students to manage self regulation definitely contributes to learning. Very difficult to do – so much is thrown at teachers and schools – but strategies like you have suggested may make that a little more manageable.

  4. Enzo – no disappointment here! I particularly like number 3 – not something people usually say. It reminds me of one of Todd Whitaker’s phrases: “It’s people, not programs.”

  5. Thank you for your positive feedback and interest. Yes, this is a hot button topic as the term international school is being used loosely in some places and it means different things to different people.

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