The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

#edfocus Academies, schools students want to attend

Last night, our session of #edfocus was packed with big thinking and great ideas. While I was participating, I started taking notes on the ideas that were proposed, as well as some resources that were shared. I thought a working summary would not only keep people thinking, but that it would also inspire and give us something to talk about when we meet again on April 25.

Our conversation quickly started to take shape with a question based on a quote from Godin in chapter 5 of Stop Stealing Dreams. If you were to invent public schools today, what would they look like?

To be clear, some of these ideas are mine, but others come from thinkers far superior to me. I “catagorized” our thinking into structures (physical layout, principles), pedagogy (how we would approach delivering curriculum), and community (how we would approach getting parents and community members on board to embrace the changes we were talking about). Frankly, I think the proposed #edfocus academies, located across the country, would be outstanding places to go to school. Our lists broke down this way:

Structures:
– Build lab schools that partner with local universities.
– Take classes beyond the formal school building.
– Eliminate bells.
– Move away from desks and desktop computers, make classrooms “collaboration spaces.”
– No teacher desks.
– Teachers given autonomy, freedom, and support.
– Open classroom walls.
– Explore the possibility of more than 1 teacher or 1 class in a space.

Pedagogy:
– Individualized, flexible curriculum with student choice embedded.
– Use of technology. For some, this may be a flip approach, for others, a way to better engage students, and for others, this meant online class options.
– A workshop model for classes that embraces the ideal of apprenticeship.
– Project based, learning by doing.
– A look for as many “experiences” both at school and in the community, as possible.

Community:
– Engage parents and stakeholders using web 2.0 tools, as well as through events like parent walk-throughs, curriculum showcases.
– School buildings open beyond the school day, serving as community centers.
– Build partnerships with people working in fields to serve as mentors for the apprentice model of curriculum.

From here, I am making two proposals. First, that we use add to this document as more ideas come up. Second, that we grow our conversation to include the “how” question. Our group has done a marvelous job of answering the “what,” “where,” and “when” questions, but now we need to wrestle with how we are going to make these changes in our schools and begin to make a BIG dent in the world of education reform.

If you build it, they will come……….

In addition, we had some suggestions on things to read, including:

– The second half of Stop Stealing Dreams
– Derek’s McCoy’s post on Parent Walk throughs – http://dmccoyinnov.blogspot.com/2011/10/parent-walk.html
-Jeff Delp’s post on use of physical space – https://azjd.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/lost-in-space/
– NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) – http://www.nocca.com/
– David Coffey on reclaiming assessment – http://deltascape.blogspot.com/2011/03/can-we-reclaim-assessment.html

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