Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Feeling Rejuvenated

Why?  I just spent Monday and Tuesday of this week at a state department of education conference for schools that are in formal school improvement who have applied for and won money to use for school improvement coaching.  The money is awesome, they are letting us use it in a way that makes sense for our school.  We just have to attend some dry meetings.  Two days in a huge ballroom sitting in round tables with water pitchers in the middle and fake chandeliers on the ceiling.  Yes, I think you get the picture.  I actually think that I am going to dedicate the rest of my career in education to avoiding "learning situations" that in ballrooms in generic hotels across this great land of ours.  It is a pretty hateful place to try and learn something.  Especially when the learning is looking at a powerpoint and flipping through a notebook.  Page by page.  You get the picture.  Except that the state is empowering us as schools to figure our own ways through the school improvement process which is awesome for me as a leader who definitely has strong views on how to do this.  But I guess that you are not feeling the rejuvenation part yet.

Across town this week, twenty five of our teachers are attending a Responsive Classroom week long training with twenty five other teachers from various division schools.  I finally was freed up to today to attend and I immediately remembered why this is so important.  The social aspect of learning is as important as the academic aspect.  Responsive classroom gets that.  It really does.  The day ended up with our staff in a circle on the floor singing a song and playing a game.  Our assistant superintendent and chief information officer happened to drop by at that very moment and were goaded into joining on the floor.  That is why it is important.  There is a point to all of this and building a community in a school or a school division takes work but it also takes fun and play as well.  

3 comments:

  1. How about the development role of play in the classroom as well? One school my older son attended had 2 ten minute recesses and 10 minutes for lunch. When he was behind in his work, these were taken away as well. One of my son's Kindergarten teachers told me with a sigh... "I still have my easels and finger paints hidden in the closet. Some day the pendulum will swing back and I'll get them out again."

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  2. That is a great question and we have a long way to go on that. We do have longer recess and lunch times than what you describe but play, especially in Kindergarten, has decreased in schools everywhere. I hope, think, that we will find some way through NCLB in the future without continuing to do what Zeke went through. We are trying to work with our staff through Responsive classroom and Expeditionary learning to bring more engagement and more child-centered teaching and learning back into our school. I will try to update frequently to let you know how it is going. Thanks for the comment Jason! I don't have many readers: )

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  3. I am a reader. I agree with you about Repsonsive Classroom and Expeditionary learning bringing more engagement and more child centered teaching and learning back into our schools. To add to Jason's comment, I think I would have to say as an educator I am concerned about how little time children have in "free - play" time both in school and out of school. So much of thier time is organized by adults. It is sad to see a child who doesn't know how to "play". The disccovery zone in kindergarten is an attempt to bring some of that back. I think just like teachers need adequate time to plan, children need time to play. I am not sure as educators we advocate for that enough. We can't figure out how to get it all in a 6 and 1/2 hour day now. I am a huge advocate of early literacy and math and beleive the time spent in the early years is crucial. However, we lost our way somehere along the way when we can't find 20 minutes for children to play at the age of 5. Something to think about. Glad your back!

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