For the past 20 months, I’ve been working in the field of education policy, where the rules are set by legislative mandate. Writing interpretation documents or clarifying that rule is a long and involved process, but there is a definite boundary.
In contrast, my new position is an opportunity to work to develop an ELP/Gifted program for 5-12 grades, which includes several hours spent with middle school students each afternoon. And honestly, the antithesis of the last position may be middle school. Or, to channel Rod Sterling, “A place where pushback is part of the status quo; a world where being ‘fair’ is just as important as the content or project.” You now have entered the Questionsphere.
It’s like going from the certitude of the epicycle model of the solar system to a reworking of the schema. I’m sure each venue has times where they feel like Galileo (see the drawing). The difference? In the District, the questions can be accompanied by claim, evidence and reasoning. If the question can’t be answered, there is a reconsideration of the system because the rules aren’t as codified.
Q1: Do I have to work with ______? I don’t like them.
MS: Can you tell me what is going on with the situation? Working with others is a skill that everyone needs to be employable.
Q2: What if _____ is a slacker or slows down the work?
MS: While you are working as a group, how can you focus on making your own work meaningful? Ultimately, it’s about the skills you gain, not the recitation of facts. Critical thinking in what we do is the real skill we are learning.
Q3: It’s easier to create presentations and worksheets. Why aren’t we doing more of that?
MS: If you are Googling the answer, how much are you learning? It’s not about fact recitation. In an information economy, it’s about developing critical thinking skills that allow students to become readers, analyze text, and develop products that apply knowledge.
Questions? Bring ’em on. As a teacherpreneur, I’m back where I belong: leading from the middle.