#IMMOOC Week 3: What If?

Last week in UVM’s #EDCI325, we made an artifact to articulate our vision for school in the future—the school that our children or grandchildren would attend (my artifact is the video below, still a draft, without a clear conclusion).  I feel really invested in reimagining education right now, both professional and personally, as my son is a year and a half old and I already get negative feedback about how physical he can be at daycare.

https://www.wevideo.com/embed/#1094173141

The vision that I created is my WHAT IFs for education, deeply informed by my reading of #InnovatorsMindset.

  • What if our schools not only acknowledged but engaged with the natural world? If learning cycled with the seasons? If we spent learning time outside every day, observing and interacting with our world?
  • What if learning was experiential and authentic? If it was designed to equip students with practical, transferable skills that are necessary in all work? What if what students learn was guided by their passions? What if anyone who was part of a school was expected to be constantly learning and growing? As George Couros wrote:

We all need to develop the skills and mindsets that will help us thrive, not only in the classroom but also in our lives beyond the school walls.

  • What if students moved at their own pace, and there was never the constant undercurrent of “but there’s not enough time!”?  Could we create a system where everyone gets what they need when they need it? Where students are empowered and have the skillset to articulate their needs? Where they have the time to reflect on what they have learned?

In this vision, how does the teacher’s role change? What would a classroom look like? What do we need to do to get from here to there? Couros has some sage advice:

To move forward in education—to create a vision for education that then comes to life—we must take more than a top-down or bottom-up approach; we will need all hands on deck.

 

 

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Vision, Innovation, and the Beginning of #IMMOOC

A reading for EDCI 325: Leadership and Technology at UVM blew my mind this week. We were talking about vision, and what and how we articulate as our vision for our schools and for education more broadly. Vision is, at its heart, the purpose of education—the future we are working towards. We try to keep that vision up to date and vital, just this month my district released their new Vision and Mission statements:

VISION: The Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union empowers all students with the knowledge, skills and attributes needed to be successful and contributing members of a global society through the development of character, competence, creativity and community.

The vision of most school districts, including the one I work for, is all about the students. How we will prepare our students for the future, who we will help our students become, that they will be empowered, competent, creative, community-minded, etc. This focus on our students has always seemed to me to be right and correct. We are teachers because we are there to help our students.

But then I read this passage by Peter Senge, and I was so, so deeply struck by the truth it represents:

a learning school is not so much a distinct and discrete place (for it may not stay in one building or facility) as a living system for learning—one dedicated to the idea that all those involved with it, individually and together, will be continually enhancing and expanding their awareness and capabilities

 

A school is not just a place for students to learn how to function in the world (and some may argue that that is not their function at all at the moment)! It is a place where EVERYONE involved should be continually growing and evolving, and helping the community grow and evolve. What a radical idea, that is so absent from most visions of  what “ideal” education looks like.

This echoes for me what George Couros said at the very end of this week’s YouTube Live session for #IMMOOC (which is all I caught because I read somewhere that they started at 9pm EST… alas). When talking about what we can do to start innovating tomorrow, Couros said that, “the first thing you do is what you’re doing right now.” That is, investing our time and energy in reflecting and educating ourselves. Growing our thinking as teachers and as leaders before we try to break the mold of education that we ourselves were grown in.

So that’s my first step. Stepping outside my comfort zone, staying up too late writing blog posts that draw connections between all the things I’ve been reading lately, sharing my thoughts and my writing publicly. Because if I’m not willing to take risks, to learn and to grow as an educator, who am I to be guiding my students on their learning journeys?