While I was still in the classroom, I was puzzled by the fact that no matter how hard I worked, I just didn't seem to be making enough of a difference. And almost every year our school would try that NEW thing that would make it all better. If you are a teacher, I suspect you share that frustration. Oh, I had my moments. While I taught computers, kids loved the class and were more than happy to learn ... if it was what they wanted to learn. Try to teach them how to set margins in the word processor or operate a spreadsheet - not so much. The last three years in the class, I taught English and one year of Social Studies. I did notice an improvement in their writing abilities when I started using Google Docs and gave them loads of feedback in the writing process, but I wasn't sure I was instilling a love of writing. I opened up writing topics pretty darn wide so they would have some interest and ownership in the process. I was still met with, "How long does it have to be?" I had great relationships with my students and they were pretty cooperative in my class, but still didn't feel like I was getting there.
A few years ago I read the book, inevitable: Mass Customized Learning: Learning in the Age of Empowerment by Charles Schwahn and Beatrice McGarvey. This was the vision I was seeking. I have done much reading over the years about different ideas to change education. This book took many of those ideas and rolled it into something that made sense to me. I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with the authors and I can't tell you how much I enjoy talking to them. I have become such a true believer of this approach and I find myself talking about it a great deal.
Even better than talking about it, a colleague and I are working on a professional development plan to help schools move in this directions. We aren't going to change what education looks like overnight (no matter how much I wish we could!), so we are going to have to plan for this kind of change. I plan to be talking about some of the changes, both in the classroom by teachers and and changes that need to be worked on my district planning teams in this blog.
We are certainly not the only ones talking about this movement, but I think I have some thoughts to offer to the conversation! If you haven't read inevitable yet, I highly recommend it. I have a stack of other books that we will discuss along the way!