One day in class a little boy asked me, “What’s your dream?” It has taken me a couple of months to think that one over. Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and remembering how brave and selfless the patron saint was in his endeavor to change the world, I realized what my dream is. My dream is to be a change-maker in education. My changes in education would include:
1. Create a Cooperative School Garden to Cafeteria Program (including chickens and composting). Classes would rotate in taking care of the garden and cooking meals with the fresh food. They would apply scientific, mathematical, and literacy skills while working in the different areas of the program.
2. Students with consistent behavior issues must attend counseling, and the parents would attend mandatory parenting classes. There would be a 2-year follow-up to all students who exit the program.
3. For those students who struggle with academics, they would be provided with tutoring which includes whatever sport or hobby they are passionate about. To pay it forward, once the student finds success in academics, they would then provide tutoring in the same sport or hobby within 4 years.
4. Literacy programs would be individualized in each classroom, according to the teacher’s strengths and passions in language arts. There would be a menu of options that the teacher would choose from, to keep it from turning into 2 hours of free-reading, but each teacher could decide what works best for them. Students would be placed in the specialized classrooms for literacy (like going to a specialist when you have a specific injury).
5. Standardized tests would be blown up to smithereens. ‘Nuff said. These assessments have caused nothing but anxiety and anger for teachers and students.
6. Portfolios would be created by each student with their work from Kindergarten to 12th grade. They would include best work, worst work, and favorite work. There would be a rubric for each one, and teachers could go through the previous years’ work samples to identify trends and create long-lasting solutions which could be checked by future teachers. All the work samples could be scanned and created in electronic folders. No need for a thousand filing boxes!
7. Reading Coaches would be replaced by Math Coaches. There has been so much emphasis on literacy instruction in Arizona in the past decade that math instruction is still weak. It doesn’t help that we moved to Common Core without curriculum for two years, and now that we have curriculum, we are told that Common Core won’t be taught in Arizona. We need Math Coaches to be advocates for consistent, high-quality math instruction!
I’ll stop at Lucky Number 7 on the 17th of March. If just one of these ideas would take place in our schools, I think it would encourage other teachers to become change-makers. The only way I could do that is to start small-scale in my own classroom. Then hopefully it will ignite the blaze of change.