A teacher in our local school district recently posted a question on one of our discussion boards: "I'm having a difficult time coming up with ideas on how to give my students more responsibility and freedom in my classroom. I am very structured and organized -- how can I give my eighth graders a little freedom in the classroom and retain structure and organization?"
This is a guest posting from my colleague, Kyle Hartung, who has worked in small schools for ten years as a classroom teacher and instructional leader in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. As part of the Leadership and Instructional Team at Envision Schools, he coaches and facilitates professional development among school leaders and teachers.
Many people think of public charter schools as a way to increase student achievement and improve our public school system. However, many others believe charters divert resources from traditional public schools and don't meet up to accountability measures.
Today, Envision Schools kicked off its fifth school year by opening a new school in Hayward, California, called Impact Academy. Our three other California schools -- City Arts and Tech and Metropolitan Arts and Tech, in San Francisco, and Oakland's Envision Academy -- started the school year, too.
This fall, let's kick it up a digital notch and start experimenting more with the technologies available to us. Depending on where you stand on the technology-pioneer continuum, you may be two steps ahead of me or looking at me cautiously from the side.
A quote by experiential-education pioneer Kurt Hahn projects brightly onto a large screen: "We are crew, not passengers." After a brief welcome, the thirty-five new teachers at Envision Schools are asked to respond to the quote in their journals. Then, following some quiet reflection time, the teachers meet their fellow group members.
My summer-reading list included the autobiographies of Mohandas Gandhi and Malcolm X, as well as a book about John F. and Robert Kennedy called Brothers, by David Talbot. Part of my motivation for reading these books came from a desire to understand the process of social change and how, perhaps, that process can help us change schools.
My two favorite times of the academic year are the beginning and the ending, and one of the best things about working in education is that we get all summer to recharge. As I gear up to start a new school year, I've been thinking quite a bit about beginnings.
It is summer, and I am trying to get back to Maine from a conference in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, storms have caused Atlanta's airport to shut down for an hour or so at just the right time to mess up my travel. Ah, well, it is summer, and this is the southeastern United States. Such things happen.