Starting from Scratch #IMMOOC

Don’t you just love it when seemingly unconnected events magically come together!  Yesterday I found myself starting my day taking part in #satchat, as the topic was “What do tomorrow’s classrooms look like today?”  ~ a timely topic as I’m currently in the process of purchasing furniture for a new elementary school that I’ll be the principal at this fall.  A task that is both exciting and daunting at the same time. This morning, I found my Twitter troll gravitating towards comments, images and articles focusing on school culture as I added #newschool for future reference.  Fast forward to later in the morning and as I was walking the dog around the block, I was reflecting on my need to blog before the end of the month.  Then as the morning progressed I found myself in a DM conversation with @gcouros booking him to come and share his talents with our Learning Support Services team this upcoming spring.  As the invitation went out to the team, one of our members, @pluggedportable shared that he was taking part in #IMMOOC.   Fast forward to tonight and another team member, @annettecann shared a post about the first blog post for the #IMMOOC ~ If you started a school from scratch, what would you see as necessary, and what would you take out from what we currently do.  A topic that is near and dear to both my heart and my head. A topic that has generated both a daily journal and a hashtag #newschool.  So tonight as I watch the Oscars, the stars are aligning (not the ones on the silver screen, but those in my Blogging universe) and I’m joining the #IMMOOC and completing my first post for the course.

My new school journey has already started with an intentionality in terms of sharing a “what if” vision with potential staff members. Bringing together a team of educators who are willing to let go of past practice which isn’t meeting the needs of today’s students.  Educators who are willing to embrace flexible seating, give up their standard metal teacher desk and imagine how a room lined with white boards can lead to student’s imagination.  Creating a culture where everyone feels welcomed, needed and appreciated.  A school where occasional teachers want to return to and parents are provided with an intentional role as partners in their child’s education.  Student voice won’t be an event, it will be a non negotiable, whether through student generated video announcements, math talks, daily opportunities for collaboration with peers and student led conferences. Students who get to direct their learning through Project Based Learning and passion projects.  A school culture where educators make their respect for the learners visible and audible.  A school culture where everyday students will know that they are loved, respected and challenged. Technology will play a role in terms of accelerating the strong pedagogy and ensuring that all students can access the curriculum through multiple entry points. Intentional and purposeful purchases.

In terms of rethinking past practices, I’m looking forward to challenging our new staff to revision and then build a meaningful model of what homework should/could look like.   I’m also wondering if as a staff we can come together and build our vision of what parent communication should/could look like.  Can we come to a common appreciation of the power of digital portfolios ~ both for ourselves as learners and for our students?  We know so much about assessment ~ let’s put it into practice.

In building a team of educators who are willing to go on this ride, building relationships will be key as we will undoubtedly have incredible successes and a few challenges along the way.  We have yet to find the “silver bullet” in terms of a perfect school culture, but being willing to try new and innovative ways to meet the needs of all of the members of our school community is a step in the right direction.  The gift of a new school is that we are not encumbered with tradition or stories of “we’ve always done it that way”.  The possibilities of a new school are endless.

Looking forward to reading the posts from others in #IMMOOC and their thoughts and views on starting a school from scratch.