Having almost finished my masters degree in education, my head is full of the latest and greatest teaching methodologies and theories, some of which are in use around the world and led to greater successes than what we see in our own public education system. Things as mundane as ‘what do the kids sit on?’ cross my mind regularly (form what I know about our natural physical state, I cannot stand to see children made to sit in seats all day - an exercise ball would be so much better and more natural for their bodies - as would getting up and moving more)!
Make no mistake, I know that we are blessed with some pretty darn good schools where we live, but that is not enough to stop a dreamer from dreaming!
So what would my ideal school look like?
It would be situated near the river and near an open park with natural spaces for exploration and hands on learning. The children would wear uniforms (yes, I did just say that). The building(s) would have windows that open and stay open on all pleasant days. The school would have a garden that is tended by the kids and that provides food for the lunches. School days and annual calendars would be made to work with families - slightly longer days that start a little later and longer school years that have more long breaks within them, similar to the year around schedule. There would be a pool and tennis courts and basket ball hoops and fields for more sports.
And these are just the visual trimmings. The meat of the school comes from the approach to learning and assessment. Teaching would be student-centered with more choice available to students in their learning and more flexibility in assessments, allowing for an individualized education that allows and encourages each child to reach their fullest potential. No cookie cutter test driven learning here, thank you very much!
Oh! I almost forgot, kids would be allowed time to wash their hands before lunch at a long trough-sink that would run down the hallway leading to the cafeteria.
Teachers would be respected as professionals and would have onsite childcare and preschool available for their young ones with time allowances for breastfeeding moms so that returning to work is not wracked with guilt but with pride.
Experts in al areas would be consulted in an ongoing basis to keep the school running at maximum potential and serving families in the best and most honest and straightforward way, keeping communication open to allow for constant improvements.
Students would interact with the world and use technologies to stay abreast of current trends in society - using new technologies to forge international learning communities that support one another and sharing students work in a way that connects them to their parents (imagine being able to see a poem your kid just wrote while you are at work!) and with other learners (think shared subject area blogging about current learning).
The possibilities are endless!!
For now, I am preparing to student teach in the fifth grade and hope that I can use some of this enthusiasm to get my students excited to continue learning where they are headed - the terrifying halls of middle school!