In the world of education there is an ongoing conversation about how to move forward. Entrenched in a testing culture that does not appear to be as successful as politicians and peripheral steak-holders might have hoped, there are voices that advocate for a more meaningful change. At the ISN National Conference many of those voices belong to teacher leaders excited about innovative solutions that truly are making a difference.
When I say innovative I am referring to what feels like new ideas, but upon further reflection I recognize that my big take away is not really new. In fact, it's getting back to something that we educators, or at least many of us, already know. However, if we are listening closely the innovative part means that we can't just go backward, but instead we have to move forward with a student centered mindset.
That mindset is what drove many of us to go into education. Namely, it's a mindset of love. Session after session that is the essence of what we heard affirming what we already know. If we want to truly change lives we have to love the people we are serving. Through that love we can create environments where kids feel safe and their needs are met. Then we can build relationships and make connections -- really get to know who they are and work toward building trust. Once that's in place we can start to talk about fun. Yes, fun. Over and over I heard and we know that for kids to be passionate and continue the work of learning beyond the classroom doors learning has to on some level be fun.
Notice that it's taken a long time to even mention that we ought to figure out what they know, what they need to learn, and how we will assess them? While we all hear the tick, tick, ticking of instructional minutes flying by we have to resist the urge to fast forward the process. As we build relationships those things will come. In fact, they will come with much greater success than they do when we compliance our way into controlling the classroom.
My big take away is this -- the methods, the ideas, and the progress are exciting, but it's the truly individual students we serve that matters the most. After two great days of learning - I'm ready to get back to all those kids I love.