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Building Rocket Ships: Morning Minutes, May 18, 2015

I cannot change it if I don’t change it. By now, my readers know how I feel about the status quo, the ritual rut that represses change, clawing and clinging from the deep crevasses of convention, threatening and thwarting those who would champion change. So, I have to break free. I have to resist the rut. I have to change the landscape and the story. And that, I am finding is no small task. Indeed, it is surprisingly–annoyingly–difficult to re-imagine education, to move away from that which has always been done.

But move I must. I don’t want my kids’ experiences in my room to be simply different next year. I want them to be completely different. I want to transport them to a new world –“build a rocket ship and fly it far away.”  And while I may not have the ability to build a rocket ship, I am trying earnestly to find the ability, the imagination to create a new world for my young galactic travelers.

Thus, beyond profiles and standards, I have begun to ponder culture and community in this new world, elements that will shape how kids feel and interact in my room. And though they are not as imaginative as I’d like, here are a few emerging thoughts on how I will shape that world.

First Five

Time is precious in education. Truly. When one really considers the amount of time he is allotted to serve a kid, he discovers he is barely a blip on the radar. Consequently, we have to use what little time we have to make the most of our opportunity. Now, of course, maximizing time and efficiency is nothing new in education. In fact, it’s at the center of the factory model, prompting among other things,  a “giving-them-hell-from-bell-to-bell” mentality that strives to shove as much “education” down our kids’ throats as possible–a maximum efficiency model. But, as Sir Ken Robinson would remind us, education is not an industrial system; it is a human system.  As such, then, to make the system more human in 211 next year, we will begin by interacting with each other, and we will call it the “first five,” five minutes during which we will connect with each other in a variety of ways, seeking to build culture on the basis of that which matters most: the people in the room. Still valuing and using time, but valuing and using time differently.

Last Lines

Reflection will be a key component in the success of our project next year. Actually it may very well be the component. So I will make it a centerpiece of all that we do, day in day out. One idea that I have percolating, is an exit task of sorts where kids have to write and share their last line as a memoir of their day. To make it both novel and simple, I will borrow from the six-word-memoir model, where kids have to write in exactly six words their reflection of their day in 211. Each day will conclude with our once again engaging on a human level.

These ideas, then, establish the book ends of our day, and now I will begin to work on the middle. With the ends taking roughly ten minutes (five minutes each), that leaves me with forty-five minutes to re-imagine, to reinvent education. Maybe I can buy a rocket ship.

Happy Wednesday, peeps.


3 Replies to “Building Rocket Ships: Morning Minutes, May 18, 2015”

  • I think your ideas are right on target: daily, six word reflection exit task. The beauty of this task is that it’s active participation by ALL students. It’s short and to the point. Because it’s daily, students can refine their writing skills. As their teacher, you can use the reflections for a quick assessment of their learning. It’s beautiful!

  • I think that’s a great idea Syrie! And personally, I think you CAN build a rocket. You have all the parts, you just need to put them together. It’s not going to happen in a day or a week, but take months or a year. But your rocket ship will be built. And you will revolutionize the world of education. I’m excited to see what you will do.

    • I love your first sentence, You can’t change it, unless you change it. You have to have the guts to change it. You can’t wait for someone else to come along. You will keep waiting and waiting and nothing will change. Amarise made a good point. You have to be patient. You will keep trying to change it but you can’t expect everything to change in just one day or in a week. Sometimes you have to wait years before seeing even the smallest change. Keep working each day, keep building your rocket ship!

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