Make School Different: Five Things to Stop Pretending

April 26, 2015 — 2 Comments

I blame Jonathan So and his blog post as well as Adele Stanfield for this post.  Both of whom tapped me for Aviva Dunsiger‘s thought provoking #MakeSchoolDifferent game.

Here are 5 things I think we should stop pretending.  Now.

My 5 things:

1) That school = the building.  And I don’t mean in that cute 21st century talk about moving beyond the walls to the Internet, I mean outside. The yard, the pond, the forest.  Kids see school as building + yard + community. Teachers see school as the building. I am deeply inspired by my husband Greg Marshall and his almost forest FDK program.  He has opened my eyes to how children see the space. He has helped me see a new way to engage children. Give them SPACE. Elevate them as learners with trust and exploration outside.

2) Take the word “digital” away from anything and everything.  Example: Digital portfolios and digital citizenship. Make portfolios. Teach citizenship.  Find a smoother interface and interplay between bit-space and meat-space. Kids-these-days don’t see such a harsh divide between online and offline. Adults go offline, kids are just AFK (Away From Keyboard). And thank you to Alec Couros for this idea from his recent keynote at #ETFOT4T.

3) Well-being can’t wait. We need to elevate the status of learners, teachers, ECEs, EAs, principals, parents, custodians, admin assistants.  Everyone should just be a bit nicer at school.  I would like to see a deeper respect between individuals throughout the community.

4) Stop Platform wars.  Really? We are still debating Apple vs Google vs Microsoft vs Linux?  Enough.  Get online. Spend money on good wifi and technology that doesn’t suck…anyone’s time.  I thought platform wars were over after Netscape and Nintendo vs Sega.

5) Stop pretending that teachers can’t be leaders unless they become a principal or a learning coordinator. (Now this is getting personal). Teachers can be leaders.  People in a position of power/authority/promotion aren’t always leaders. Teachers can influence change without climbing the ladder. And for those that climb the ladder, great! LEAD! Be a renegade not a robot.  As a teacher, I make my voice heard. I lead. I follow. I join. In the great words of Miley Cirus: I can’t stop. I won’t stop.

So. There.Outside with my class



2 responses to Make School Different: Five Things to Stop Pretending

  1. Thanks for joining in, Michelle. You’re voice is an important one, and I’m glad you took on the challenge! Although all your points resonated with me to some degree, the one that made me mentally shout “yes!” was your last one. A leader is not a label, a position, a title, a job–it’s a state of being, it’s how others view you. In the education world, leaders are quite often seen as the administrators, the system-level staff, those that aren’t in the classroom (maybe it’s not just in the education world…maybe this is everywhere). It is so untrue! Teachers are the scientists; the ones who test out theories and take risks to see if what they’ve tried is the best thing for students. They are the experts because they are on the front lines day after day. I’m not saying all teachers are leaders, but those that reflect on and refining their practice, are constantly seeking out advice or a better way, and share their learning with other educators, they are the leaders. I’ve chosen to stay at the school level and work with students, and it doesn’t affect my leadership!

    • Preach it! Yell it out from the top of schools everywhere! Thanks, Adele. I love the notion of teacher as scientist. We are the researchers and practitioners at the ground level. From this point of view, there is a lot we can say and do to have positive impact on education in a small and large sense.

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