Thoughts from a reflective educator.
I saw @drtimony tweet suggesting that we, and by this he meant #edchat on Twitter, should start a school. It's a good idea, certainly among the participants of #edchat we have the expertise to pull it off.
What would I want that school look like?
First I'd like the assessment in the school to be used to help the students' learning, rather than on trying to identify the progress of learning for anyone else. Ideally this would mean no grades for the students; nothing numerical being used to measure their learning. Each student would have a portfolio that they would use to guide and keep track of their learning, and could be used to share what they are learning with the wider school community. Grades are demotivating for students. First, they end the learning process. Once an assignment is graded, it is no longer worth improving upon. Second, grades lead naturally to ranking of students, which leads to students self-image being hurt. Nothing is more demoralizing than recognizing that a person of authority thinks you aren't as worthy as your peers.
Student discipline would run using something like the restitution model where students become able to manage their own behaviour. Conversations about discipline under restitution stop the focus on the student as being a bad person and start with idea that people are always in a state of improving themselves.
The building of the school would include learning spaces and be a place which is comfortable. The schools filled with hallways and classrooms are sterile and cold, and are a reminder of the factory model upon which our current model is built. Instead of students being trapped inside, my perfect school would include a blended model where students could learn from the outside world. We may not even be tied to a single building, as schools like the Think Global School have shown that what matters about a school are not its walls, but the people and experiences they encompass.
No textbooks would be found in this school. The curriculum itself would be at least 50% self-directed by the students with some essentially skills taught along side completely personalized learning. Our emphasis would be on skills, not content. We would want students who can communicate, who can think, and who know how to learn. Technology would be used to support those skills, and students would be connected to other learners from around the world. Discussions would replace lectures and students would be expected to be question-makers rather than question-consumers.
The educators who worked at this school would be passionate learners along side their students as their role would not be to instruct, but to support. The teachers at this school would also run the school, with each of them having a leadership role in some aspect of the school. They would share the workload associated with schools and act from a student-centred perspective. They would ask "how can we help these students be successful?" and "how can we support our students?" everyday.
What would you like your ideal school to look like?