Sunday, 18 September 2011

Your ideal school

7th post:
A question on educator's lips at the minute is that of an #idealschool. The concept of a school, as close to the ideals of your own educational philosophies, is a magical one.  Parents and friends often ask me what my view of the "perfect" school looks like and I always answer "No school is perfect and do we want it to be?" That isn't life.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting @malynmawby at the SHORE Sydney city Teachmeet. Malyn and @townesy work together. Like me, Malyn is somewhat of a metacognitive thinker. Just last week (September 11th, 2011) Malyn wrote a post titled  How do we teach empathy?  Take a look.  The blog post was interactive, in that, Malyn invited others to "crowdsource". Readers were able (via comments) to add to her original list  of 4 points on teaching empathy. It was an amazing experience to be involved.

Perspective is a gift which when shared is priceless.
I hope you are able to add to the list below of what YOUR #idealschool may look like. (via comments)
The list will remain open and added to as long as we keep the conversation alive.

    1. Educators would ensure there is time at the beginning of the year/unit/rotation to really get to  know their students.  Facilitators must know names of students - and use them regularly. There  is nothing  as sweet sounding as your own name. This fosters a sense of  belonging and personalizes the  learning environment. CHARACTER EDUCATION at forefront.
    2. Cross curricular learning. Let's share our knowledge and expertise with other faculties AND allow kids to draw together PLP (personalized learning project) that canvases more than one isolated subject area. This is seen on occassion in schools when "showcase" nights are presented.The Art department may display works, the Music department supply the entertainment and the Food and Hospitality provide nourishment. Students get a real buzz from this type of collaboration.
    3. Allow students to float between grades, depending on level of unit being studied. Relatively fluent in Italian? -sit the grade 10 course, instead of Year 8 course.
    4. Educators would not assume prior knowledge. Do all of your students know how to set up a Word doc? Do they know how to organize themselves- work and time management?  Guidance/facilitating not lecturing. Ground effective learning habits early.
    5. Love of learning and genuine effort is the norm. 
    6. Do we really need to measure kids against each other? What is standard anyway?
    7. A portfolio of work is produced. Individualized. Incremental learning whereby students present in a variety of ways. Which leads to the next point...
    8. Difference is valued. 
    9. Students do. Action learning. Relevant and purposeful.
    10. Social media and personal skills are taught alongside life skills. 
    11. Mind shift from homework to SP: study prep. You are in control of your own learning!
    12. Students run a proportion of workshops.                                                                                          Kids learn best from their own.                                                                                                   Below are crowdsourced points:
    13. @johntspencer via @malynmawby confirm : Different "systems" suit different people. There is no perfect model. No perfect school. Same school-one student adores experience of rigid structure and learns much. Others, may find the structure stiffling. Gotta love sociology. This point stems from @malynmawby who confirms my opening paragraph which states that there is no perfect school. She points me towards @Johntspencer who also says we need to listen more. His discussion of Educational dystopia is worth listening to. He is correct in concluding  we do not have all the right answers. Let us remember humility. @malynmawby suggests the idea of supporting the TOTALITY of being and being with others. Appreciating others. 
    14. Increased connectivity to wider community via excursions and incursions suggests @jogrima. Collaboration with other schools, not only within their region but overseas. See Liam Dunphy's  connected classrooms project.
    What can you add? Do you agree/disagree with the above points? There maybe many reasons why any points above may not be feasible. Have a say! Let us crowd source and develop a set of ideals which can become apart of our immediate learning environment.

    Let's continue the conversation:  
    (Go on ...please comment below-let's collaborate. I am fascinated to hear your views on the subject)

    You do not need to be a member to comment. Just click on "comment as" below. If you have an account with google, wordpress etc select this OR just select USER/URL and add your name/surname (or a screen name eg MR K) leave the URL blank if you wish and then click continue. Then type in your comment, edit if needed and click on "post comment" to see your contribution. I will add to the list as suggestions/ comments come in.

    (Jeannette James)


    1. Hey guys-Thank you for viewing! There has been over 110 page views since posting 11 hours ago. Amazing. Please help out by starting the conversation- add your piece. What do YOU see as the ideal school? I would also like to see a "mental health" morning or afternoon once a month where students and teachers were able to have fun together without focusing on the curriculum. Let's push the hidden curriculum to the forefront. Easy to comment. No moderation.

    2. testing 123. Have got messages re difficulty posting a comment. We are aiming to rectify this issue ASAP.

    3. Hi Jeannette,

      Thanks for the mention. Your enthusiasm is inspiring. Before I forget, here's the link to the crowdsourced How do we teach empathy?

      I particularly agree with you in that there is no perfect school and I doubt there ever will be. Schools serve a multitude of purpose relative to the individual, the family,community, society/nation. For this, stating an ideal is very difficult - there are lots of variations and differences and we must value these differences, as you say yourself.

      So what then?

      I quite like the 'social justice' approach that takes on the totality of being and being with others. So for me, an ideal school is one that helps individuals develop (or at least set off on the path towards) full potential, acknowledging and appreciating the others around him/her.

      I think you will like this podcast by @johntspencer: Educational Dystopia. If you're not following him on Twitter, make sure you do.

      Malyn - Love2Learn

    4. Hey Jeanette, - I love this - I am definately a metacognitive thinker too. I loved the idea of the child being a floater between subjects and grades and running workshops - we are starting this in year 4 next term, they are creating tutorials in their strengths for the other students. I like the idea for kids peer teaching and designing lessons and possibly assessments to match their lessons? Furthermore I think it is important for children to connect with the wider community in some way (in Primary - if they are an expert in maths using the parent body to link as a mentorship with particular students through email - in high school this could be done with uni students or professors/teachers/professionals like internships).
      Focus on personal best.
      Great work Jeanette - thanks for the post

    5. Love the 12 points that you suggested - really valuable and things that should always be at the heart of the issue.

      It is so true that kids learn best from their own - we must continue to come back to this as educators.

    6. Great to have experienced educator and philosopher @malynmawby contribute-thanks for taking the time Malyn. The link to your blog post on Empathy is in the second paragraph. Thank you for Number 13!

    7. Thank you @jogrima. I am glad you are enjoying the discussion so far. Oh! Yes, nice work. Connectivity to the wider community. Was hoping someone would raise this earlier on. Point 14!

    8. Thanks Alex for your affirmation. Clearly, as educators we are always looking to learn and be conscious of effective pedagogy. Keeping hold of "traditional" teaching methods is integral as individuals learn extremely differently. A third of my Yr9 RE class prefer the "teacher directed" structured lessons. Teaching content is as important as teaching skill.

    9. Another thought: longer "sessions"/lesson times. Especially on a larger campus. Like OLMC model- homeroom, 75mins each lesson, lesson 1, recess, lesson 2, 5 min break, lesson 3 lunch, last lesson 4. Pastoral care timetabled in one lesson per cycle. They also use this for assemblies if needed.

    10. I really liked this post and I agree with the points above all I have to add is...

      In my ideal school there would be no tests instead kids would be assessed via projects as well as the effort and activity they show each day.

    11. Hi Jeanette,
      Great post about your ideal school - you may also be interested in @reinventing school, which is a hashtag, and a blog, as well as Brendan's user name. It is also a project that will involve teams of teachers and students - anyone interested- who will collaborate and learn collectively about the schools of the future.

    12. Carmen- spot on! Struggling with this over last couple of weeks as my students sit for ATB tests (across the board). Some questions from random worksheets- do these really show understanding or regurgitation of facts-IF the teachers went thru ALL worksheets presented by department...Oh boy! So much more to learn and spend time on!!!

    13. Hi Britt! love Brendan too! @reinventschool is way cool for school! Thanks for taking the time to comment.