For the past several months, I’ve had the privilege of being part of an amazing team of innovative educators who are in the process of building something new. Not the kind of new you experience when you buy a new car, all shiny and perfectly clean, but more of a..let’s say…redesigned, reimagined, repurposed new. As one teacher said, “we are reframing everything we have every known about education.” Much like rehabbing a house or refinishing a piece of furniture, this “re” we have embraced is exciting, creative, life-giving. A fresh perspective and an opportunity to pioneer to a place we have never been before. And what I have absolutely loved about this process is that we are all learners, proclaimed self-directed learners, the kind of learners we want to cultivate in our classroom.
In any process of “re”, there is still the foundation by which it was originally built. Re anything does not mean demolish, but rather taking the essence/foundation of what it is and making it more beautiful. I think that is what we are doing, taking the essence of education–the learner and the learning experience–and making it more relevant.
As I’ve reflected on what it means to reimagine, for me, there are several key foundational beliefs that never change.
1. Every child is unique. In every way. Even if there are similarities and matching test scores, each and every one is truly unique in how they feel, how they think, how they respond.
2. Every child can learn. It may be we are asking too much of them too fast or maybe we are asking them to fit through a pinhole assessment when they would rather show us what they know.
3. Every child is creative. As a child, one of our favorite books to read was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I often resonated with Alexander. Didn’t my mom understand my messy room was simply an outpouring of my creative mind?
4. Every child has an innate desire to learn and grow. It’s all in the approach.
5. Every child is worth it. That extra minute, that redesign to hook their minds and hearts, even that pause before saying what you are really thinking to build instead of tear down.
I love my job. I love my colleagues. I love building something together with our learners.
This is a video created, written, directed, and edited by a small group of creative 4th graders. They developed this story out of the theme: Giving Back. Maybe next time I’ll write about that process, both in structure and facilitation. At times, I honestly thought I was working with high schoolers. What fantastic minds are in little people.