Last year, our K-8 school officially became a “Demonstration” school. Why? Because most of our teachers found that, when given the freedom and support to implement the changes in our classroom that we believed in (due to research, experience, professional development, or just our well-trained guts), our students’ learning soared.
But doing what we believe can be messy. That’s why it feels risky, and that’s why large school systems are reluctant to allow teachers to do what they know is right for their students. It’s much safer to teach using prescribed methods, textbooks, canned approaches, and computer programs. But those of us who work with real children know that doing so can be demoralizing for reasons ranging from their ineffectiveness in reaching all learners to the creativity they drain from us professionally.
So we reach higher. We reach for ways to teach our students, not our curricula. We reach for ever-smarter ways
to both motivate and challenge our students. We reach for more effective ways to make our classrooms safe, nurturing communities for students whose needs are as varied as their backgrounds.
This Blog is meant to be a place to showcase both the ways we reach and the messes we make. Because we want our students to take risks and be unafraid of failure, we must do the same. Because we are a Demonstration School, we need to demonstrate that the best teaching and learning happens when we are unafraid both to reach high and to make messes.