When my time in education is done and I’m ready for a second act during retirement (teaching again? writing that book?), I want to know that I’ve made a significant positive difference. To know that I’ve left the place BETTER than I found it, that we’re learning more and that it’s significant learning for everyone. I want to knock the heck out of the status quo.
I think that’s how most BOE members feel when they serve on a board of education. So it’s with much excitement that I met with our administrators and teachers to talk about the vision/mission set by our BOE at it’s Fall Retreat–Learning with Passion, Innovation and Leadership.
If you think about it, isn’t that what we want for everyone? For every student, every teacher, every athlete—meaningful learning experiences when they can feel passionate about what it is they’re learning. Meaningful learning experiences which they can approach with a curiosity about all that’s in the world today and where they can lead with influence.
Think about your own child. When she goes forward from Randolph Central, what do you want for her? Do you want to know that he can ask good questions, pursuing the life of his dreams with passion and leading with influence and collaboration? Do you want to know that she can communicate her ideas effectively and to think well?
When I think of my own children, I want this for them. It’s nice to know that they did well in school—as we’ve always measured that anyway–they both achieved honor or high honor roll every quarter, did well on Regents exams, graduate in the top of their classes. But what good will that do them if they can’t THINK through the situations they face, if they can’t advocate for themselves or ask good questions? If they have no flexibility and can’t work with others? If they aren’t curious about everything that’s so amazing in this world? If they just accept everything the world throws at them as their lot in life?
I don’t want my own kids to go quietly through their lives. And I don’t want that for our RCS students either. I hope we’re graduating students who can research and analyze and take the initiative. I hope we’re graduating students who can help to solve the many problems that our world faces–making it a better place than it is today. I want our graduates to know that they have the power to do so. And so I’m always wondering, what are we doing to prepare them to be good thinkers? To let them practice these things?
Time will tell if my own kids can do more than be good students in school. I’m hopeful and optimistic, but I’m not sure that the ability to score well on the Global exam or Earth Science Regents or the 8th grade Math exam shows much more than an ability to memorize, study and take a test well. Does this success indicate an ability to critically think, to problem solve, to collaborate, lead, initiate, communicate, analyze? To really understand the world around them and their places in it? I’m not sure. I’ve got a daughter who’s an adult and a son with his foot firmly planted on that threshold. It’s largely up to them now.
And our RCS students? Well that’s entirely within our grasp, isn’t it? We determine what happens here every day for our kids. I, for one, along with our teachers, administrators, staff and BOE members, am setting out to change the world. Seriously. I believe that if we truly focus on learning with passion, innovation and leadership, we can prepare our students to be innovative problem solvers who live their lives with purpose and passion. And just for the record, I’ll bet that when we do all of this–they’ll still get good marks on the state assessments, probably better.
Let’s get to it.