What are we missing here?

Update for Sept 21-25

Helping nature along
https://flic.kr/p/6suPUp (Labeled for reuse)


A couple of posts I read this weekend really pushed me to reflect about the work we are doing.  

The first is by Peter DeWitt and Russell Quaglia called “10 Reasons Students Should Go On Strike” and takes many of the complaints some educators have about education — testing, sit-and-get professional development — and asks the read to consider the same complaints from the perspective of the students.

DeWitt and Quaglia’s post pushed me to reflect on what school looks like for kids.  Is the balance of “learner-driven” instruction and “must-teach” instruction in harmony? Should it be? Or should “learner-driven” instruction be tipping the scale? The post also makes me think about this great graphic representation of George Couros’ School vs. Learning thoughts:


I return to this graphic often because my vision for what elementary education can look like is centered around the “learning” bullets.

The second post is by Will Richardson, who wrote Why School?.  In his post “How Schools Are Stuck”, he asks educators to reflect on whether they themselves are the learner they hope their students will be?  Are we modeling what learners should be?  Is our learning organization a good example of a learning organization?

Richardson ends the post by challenging educators to consider two questions:

  1. Have we clearly defined and articulated how kids learn best and then aligned our practice to this?
  2. Do we have a commitment to rooting out institutional inconsistencies with our definition for how kids learn best?

Again, I was pushed to reflect and think about how we might answer Richardson’s two questions.

So I did some investigation into some work that was done in the past at Alton Darby to see if we did have a clear belief about how student learn.  

Take a look at some belief statements that were clearly defined and appear on our school website and think about what you notice:

The work and play of Alton Darby is guided by our commitment to seven core virtues:
  1. Honesty
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility
  4. Compassion
  5. Giving
  6. Self-discipline
  7. Perseverance
We believe that adults work with children using the following guiding values:
* Adults recognize that all students are uniquely different and have value.
* Adults are enthusiastic and joyful about their work with students.
* Adults use professional observations and reflections to guide their instruction and work with children.
* Adults are compassionate, patient, and respectful of students.
* Adults are positive models and mentors for students.
* Adults have fun with students, reflect with students, and teach the whole child.
* Adults celebrate knowledge in an atmosphere of inquiry, bringing themselves into the learning experience, encouraging engagement.

We believe that effective relationships are developed through the following practices:
* productive communication,
* open-mindedness,
* teamwork and shared decisions,
* listening and encouragement,
* compromise and cooperation, and
* a willingness to grow.

How Children Work With Children
(written by our STUDENTS)
At Alton Darby, we believe that children should:
* be honest,
* be respectful of other people and their property,
* take responsibility for their actions,
* always try, work hard, and do their best,
* care for others the way they would like to be cared for.

How Children Work With Adults
(written by our STUDENTS)
We believe that when working with adults, children should:
* always be honest, especially in difficult situations,
* always be respectful,
* show caring for and about others,
* work hard and give best effort.

These are great statements and I agree and believe in everything that has been written.  

But it’s all centered around behavior.  

The words “learn” or “learning” don’t even appear in our belief statements!  

I think we have an opportunity here!

So, what do we believe when it comes to learning?

How do kids learn best?

Articles Worth Reading — 

See the links to Richardson and DeWitt/Quaglia’s posts embedded in the post above! They are worthy reads for sure!

Video Worth Seeing —

Amazing! It’s only a matter of time before this kind of work lands in schools! Are we getting our students ready to think creatively?

Upcoming Dates — 

9/21 — No School for Students — Staff Report to ADE at 8:00am.
9/24 — Picture Day!
9/24 — Fall Tailgate, 6-7:30pm at ADE

OCT 5-9 — Fall Conference Week
10/10–9:00-12:00 p.m.–Community Cardboard Challenge at Heritage Middle School
10/26–6:00 p.m. STATE OF THE SCHOOLS ADDRESS at Bradley HS

11/2–7:00 p.m. PTO meeting–5th grade to attend
11/3–Election Day–teachers report ONLY–NO SCHOOL

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