Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dreaming is Free

Or is it?

Can you imagine your dream school?  Your dream team of teachers?  Your dream parents?  students? classroom?

I got my first teaching job in January of 1983.  Then just having a job was living the dream!  That first semester was spent in survival mode.  I did my best to deliver the dream of learning to each student with my well-planned lessons as prescribed by a curriculum written for the average student.

It took me about 2-3 weeks into the next school year to realize that my students weren't average.  If they did fit the curriculum they certainly did not fit the scope and sequence.   Positive, negative, intermittent reinforcements were not working for any of us.  The disconnect between my professional training and practice in the classroom was a constant noise inside my head.

But I was lucky.  I wasn't the only one and back then there was so much more 'wiggle room'.  I found some kindred spirits and we banded together across districts, states and even continents around child-centered, holistic, constructivist, inquiry-based classrooms driven by the needs and interests of the children, not the curriculum.  Those were dream years with students leading the march with their play, curiosity, interests, and ideas far beyond any clever thing I could have imagined.  Children were seen as more than just a test score.

Many times in my career that professional support group has been reshaped, rebuilt, rediscovered.  But over the years the 'wiggle room' has been diminished.  Mandates eat up our time and our energy and the dust starts to settle on the dream.  People grasp for easy answers based on the latest renamed teaching strategy to make the news.  Professional teachers are held accountable via testing at younger and younger ages.

It is so easy to get lost and lose sight of the dream.  It takes vigilance.  It takes support.  It takes time and energy.  Thank you Kinderchat for helping me dust off the dream, rekindle my spirit, and once again dream... What is best for kids?

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