Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Who took the fun out of learning?

It always depresses me when I hear my elementary teacher friends and colleagues who are parents of young children talk about how more and more of their students' time is spent in desks preparing for upcoming tests. In kindergarten and even first grade? Come on! What happened to the FUN in learning??? Perhaps we really want to create a next generation of test-taking robots.

Recently, one of my former Harvard colleagues posted a conundrum on our listserv that really irked and depressed me. This person's son is being made to passively learn and sit in his desk practically all day in the first grade. How on earth is that helping him become an active, more developed learner and thinker able to talk about the world around him?

Here is what he writes:

My son in the public schools in the first grade. He is not having a wonderful time. While he is successful by the school standards, he continues to talk about not liking school Much of this is the school's desire to have him sit all day and not get him outside. He would flourish in a more progressive school environment. I was wondering if people had suggestions of schools in the Boston area that approached education not from a cattle drive idea but more involved and "authentic" experience.  

Thanks in advance for your ideas.

Typical of our active, responsive listserv, the first response came a few minutes later:

I am sorry to hear your son's struggle. My son is a kindergartner. So I can feel your pain... Luckily, my son loves his school (it's a private and more progressive school...).

Have you checked Mission School? It's the school created by Deborah Meier.  When I was a student of Eleanor (not with T-440 but another course), I did weekly observation at the school and worked/discussed with teachers there. I thought it was very interesting and the teachers value indivitual student's curiosities and willingness to discover their own learning than pushing their agenda through...

The son of my mentor @ UMass Boston is a graduate of Mission Hill too. You might want to check it out. Good luck!

Naturally, I had to find out more about the Mission Hill School:

The Mission Hill School is a Boston Public School, serving children in grades K-8. We are a small community, with approximately 170 students. Our Multi-age classrooms typically consist of no more than 20 students, and most children spend two years with the same teacher.

Our staff includes: 1 principal, 11 lead teachers, 11 support staff members including interns, a full-time art teacher, a developer, part-time music teachers for strings, band instruments and chorus, and two general aides. A number of other staff include: a learning specialist, family-school liaison, an occupational therapist, a curriculum specialist, a school nurse, and several other adjunct positions.

Mission Hill Students have a full working library on site, and also have access to current technology. All Grade 4-8 classrooms have computers that are connected to the Internet. We also have a relationship with the Parker Hill branch of the Boston Public Library, and use their resources as well.

Our after-school program is run by Mission Hill School staff members. We also offer sports programs for students in grades 6-8. Sports include: basketball, Soccer, Flag Football and in the winter months, a program called Chill, which takes city children snowboarding and provides all of the necessary equipment. Community service is also a part of our curriculum, and middle-school aged children participate in a program which places them in different internships in the area.

Mission Hill School is a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools, a national network of schools and regional centers which embrace the same common principles of education. Among these principles are small school size, authentic assessment, equitable education, and democratic governance.

Please visit our Affiliations link to find out more about our relationships with organizations outside of the Boston Public Schools. -- 

My question is: do you have a school near you like the Mission School? I am eager to see a school like this in action, one that truly values learning as an active discovery process for its students.


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