I’m sitting here on a Sunday afternoon with a group of 8 Educators on a cold day in Philadelphia, I’ve opted to sit on the sideline for the start of the meeting so I don’t take away from the conversation they’re engaged in right now….The Future of School of the Future. They label themselves the Curriculum Planning Committee and their charge is to figure out how The School of the Future can get back on track in terms of creating an innovative learning environment. That’s it, figure out how to sustain and encourage innovative learning environments, something that we’ve spent 4 years at SOTF doing, changing, modifying, shelving and reinventing.
As many of our visitors discover when they tour the school these days we’ve had to take a step back in order to move forward in regards to project based learning, in order to correctly implement innovative thinking in the school, we need to have a better plan of attack. Oh trust me, there was a plan when the school opened in 2006, and despite many critics attempts to say that “Microsoft didn’t think of …” I say this, educators, parents, and committees spent hundreds of hours coming up with the plan, but when those people who supported the plan move on and transition into different positions then even the best plans require rethinking. That’s exactly what this group debated about over lunch, they don’t feel supported from within the district.
That’s actually why I’m here today, to listen and try and understand the joy and pain of being the School of the Future and as a partner, how I can help. This group of educators are arguing, debating and mapping out the future of curriculum, schedules, promotion, graduation, EVERYTHING that needs to change in order to meet their goal of fully realizing an innovative learning environment @ School of the Future. For those of you that have traveled this road before, you immediately recognize the huge task that lies ahead for them HUGE. You also know that they don’t want sympathy for having to do this task, or maybe I should say they don’t need sympathy because they’re passionate, they’re committed and they’re on track to complete they’re task but not without shedding any blood, sweat and tears.
They’re going around topic by topic, brainstorming, discussing and documenting their thinking so that they can share their work and have proof that these are not just thoughts and plans randomly created, no, they’re being argued, backed up by proof and experience and flushed out in an open forum. These ideas and plans will then be presented to the entire staff for approval or another round of debate and once agreed upon by the staff, they’ll be put into action. Doubts and fears are thrown out for certainty and confidence once something has been agreed upon, and the end result will be a wonderful electronic document ready to be shared with the entire staff. This all seems familiar, I feel like this may be similar to the way that the 100+ people who developed the School of the Future came to agreements on curriculum, scheduling and how learners graduate from this school. You may start think that this is bad that we’re having this conversation, again, I say its all been part of the plan, to continuously rethink, rededicate, and reengage in this thinking, to this school and to the mission and vision of the school.
People say name one thing that you’re doing innovatively at your school, and I could talk about the amazing way that educators have infused OneNote into the curriculum, or the way that our first year teacher team meets every day to continually adjust their efforts to still teach as a teacher team, but despite all the technical innovations that everyone wants to hear about the one innovative thing that has existed since day one is that our educators are STILL thinking innovatively at the School of the Future, and as we move into our 3rd hour of discussion the other innovative thing they’re doing is using this really cool web based stop watch to keep on topic and on time, it looks like we’re going to be okay.