by Pat Yongpradit, Guest Blogger,
Most teachers go to forums to learn new ideas and take them back to their classrooms. That is why I initially decided to participate in the Microsoft Innovative Educator Forum. I expected to learn about Web tools, new applications, and technologically innovative curricula. What I have found valuable about my IEF experience so far has been simpler, yet more impacting. What I most value is the encouragement that I have gotten from meeting innovative, like-minded educators. Simply experiencing their passion has given me a new sense of mission to do what it takes, whether through technology or not, to meet the needs of my students and inspire them to something more.
Currently, there is a lot of talk about Education Reform (when is there not?). If I could pick one thing to change about education that could be implemented pretty quickly, it would be to change school schedules so that kids will learn less for more time. I say that it is crazy to expect kids to learn seven different topics in one day and expect them to do it at a high level. No adult would put up with seven different meetings or handling seven different projects a day... so then why do we expect immature kids to? It bugs me when I have to hurry my class through projects and content just because of some archaic schedule. It is also crazy that kids get a 2.5 month break from school, yet we expect our students to learn and do more. I say we elongate the school year and split it up into trimesters where kids focus on three classes per trimester. Each day they learn three subjects for 2 hours each. Each trimester could go for 13 weeks. Kids would actually end up taking more classes (9) than they would have in a normal 7 period schedule. The actual logistics are negotiable, but the idea is that a "simple" change to a school's schedule would produce deep, creative, and focused thought in its students.