I'm halfway through my career and quite honestly, none of this has realigned teaching as we know it across the state. Sure, there are pockets of greatness. But it depends on the luck of the draw--which teacher you get. I wonder about that. I worry about whether the local level funding is where we should focus our energies and our money. I love the fact we are recognizing the financial needs of young professionals coming into the profession, but besides that, I'm unsure.
I want to learn from those innovative professionals. And I think the Branstad proposal could be adapted for that, but are those professionals concentrated evenly in each school? Or would this teacher-mentor model be better adapted to an AEA level, allowing teachers to leave their classrooms for a year? I wonder about that.
And have we asked those administrators in small schools--you know, the ones where the principal or superintendent teaches a math class so the building can stay open and the kids have options--if teaching one or two classes a day is a good idea? How's that working for them? Is a coaching or strategist sabbatical a better idea? I wonder about that.
See, all of these things, above, are pieces that had good intentions. But they are intentions without the central focus we need.
We need a vision that is focused on the dreams of students. Ask your own child. Ask the next child who walks into your field-of-view. Ask them if this stuff above is what they remember about great learning? Or what they dream about? Because passion comes from wanting to learn each day
And if it doesn't come up, maybe it's time to rethink. Because I want all kids to dream big dreams. I want them to make things. Program apps. Do real work. Not be confined to desks. And if I can't structure the classroom to help those kids reach for the stars, I'll need to look for better options.
Things like authentic presentations with community partners
Online courses to meet the needs of different sets of learners.
Collaborating with other students in other districts
Flexible student content
Buildings open from 8-8 with sliding teacher and student schedules
Creating, not just consuming
When we start looking at what we need for kids, maybe then we can design the system.
Last year, I took one statement from Twitter to heart: Iowa, do we want to be a series of buildings or a system of schools?" I'm still trying to find that answer.