|Originally posted on Dreams of Education on March 25, 2016|
There’s nothing sacred about spelling tests as a way to learn spelling, flash cards to learn math facts, curriculum as a way to teach, testing as a way to collect data. There’s nothing sacred about most of what we do every day in education, and yet we hold tightly to these institutions as we make decisions about what school will look like. These constructs have been put into place to accomplish certain goals; namely to get kids to pass a test, have a certain GPA, and go to college.
We hold certain beliefs about education because those who came before us set the ground work for how we operate schools. Those who came before us existed in quite a different reality of what it meant to be educated. At the dawn of industrialization, much of what we see in education probably made sense.
When we consider how to do education better, how to make it more equitable, more meaningful, we often do so from the vantage point of old constructs...
The first question that I get asked when people find out that I’ve started a school: what makes Anastasis Academy different? And this is a tricky one to answer, because the truth is EVERYTHING makes us different. It’s hard to describe something that no one has seen before, so you begin to relate it with ideas and concepts that people are familiar with. The more I’ve talked about Anastasis, the more I’ve begun to really recognize what it is at the heart that makes us so different. It is our starting point and driving force: students-with-names.
That may seem like a strange comment to make, “students-with-names,” because, of course they have names! But in education, we make a lot of decisions without these specific students-with-names in mind. We make decisions for students as if they are a homogeneous group, or worse, a number.
As if they don’t have special interests/passions/gifts.
|Originally posted on Dreams of Education on October 6, 2015|
In 2009, I left teaching. I didn’t do it because I was fed up with the system, or because I didn’t like my job. Quite the opposite. I really loved being a computer teacher. I loved the freedom of writing my own curriculum every day, and getting to know my students. I had a great time helping other teachers learn how to use technology, and coming up with ideas for how they could integrate it into their classrooms. In 2009, I left teaching for health reasons. I have auto immune disorders (Rheumatoid Arthritis and Raynaud’s Syndrome) and in 2009, my rheumatologist recommended that I take a year off to see if my body would stop attacking itself. Get away from the germs the wreak havoc on the system.
So, that is what I did. I took a year off, fully anticipating that this little experiment would not work and that I would be back in the classroom by 2010.
In 2008 (I know, I’m doing this in the wrong order!), I was teaching my stude...
“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and again to hang a question mark on the things you take for granted.”
This. This quote is one of my new very favorite quotes ever! This is where innovation lives. In the question marks.
Too often in education, we talk about innovation as if it is something that we’ve created and something that can be owned. We talk about innovation in steps and processes and we make it into something it isn’t. And so when we talk about education reform, the conversation gets centered on the wrong things: rigor, standards, tests, Race to the Top!, No Child Left Behind!, technology, better teachers, more tests. Things that end up actually adding layers between us and what we fight for: students. But educational innovation doesn’t live in any of these.
Innovation is a shift in mindset. It is hanging the question mark on things taken for granted.
So often in education we hear the excuse: it’s too expensive to implement. There just isn’t any money. Budgets are tight.
That’s not an excuse I’m willing to accept. I know what is possible when you start with NO money. I know that lives are changed as a result of followed dreams and passion. I know that real success has nothing to do with a bank account.
While money is helpful, it isn’t what is holding you back.
I started Anastasis Academy with no money. No endowments, no big donors, no one backing us financially. We started with ZERO dollars. Well, not exactly zero, we spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $140 out of our own pockets to start a school. That $140 paid for copies of information for the info nights we held, it paid for our business license, and it paid for our domain name and one month of hosting. We hired teachers before we knew the money would be there. We leased space from a church trusting that we woul...
“We have organized schools not by how kids learn, they have been organized by an easy way to teach.” -Daggett
In September I mentioned a “hunch” I was having about education and learning. Since September I have fleshed out that hunch into a business model, prototype, and wireframe and am currently working with a team of programmers to make it a reality. Last night I presented this idea at the House of Genius and got some great feedback. It made me want to know what my PLN geniuses thought about the idea! I would love your input on this project as I move forward, are there things that aren’t clear in my explanation of what I am doing? Ideas for how to improve it? Recommendations? Below is a little background as to the “why” I am pursuing this project along with a brief description of my solution.
Education is currently operating from a factory model where students are treated like widgets. We push t...