Thursday, May 26, 2011

Getting together- collaborative education reform

 
Children arrive at school expecting to learn. Teachers arrive at school expecting to teach. Parents, for the most part, trust that this exchange works smoothly and that their children's learning needs are addressed effectively at school. Simple right?

Actually, not so simple. There are variables at play in the learning exchange that complicate what should be the fairly simple process of teachers teaching and kids learning. Every child is unique; each one has a story that arrives at school with them. I call these stories learning stories, and I have yet to encounter one that didn't include challenges.

In order for teachers to provide care that addresses these challenges responsively and effectively, we have to get together with significant others in the communities we serve; we have to collaborate with them to provide service that wraps around kids and draws them in. We have to access the skills and knowledge that exists broadly outside the walls of our school buildings to fully support the whole growth of children. The web of helping professionals within our communities is complex and fragmented. Children's services aren't coordinated in efficient and productive ways. We have to change this. We all have to collaborate to help kids write their own stories. Even the online education world is recognizing that applied analytics can help a great deal in learning what is working for students and what is not. Analyzing the learning tendencies, patterns, strengths and preferences of kids has a tremendous upside if we are to effectively design instruction that suits each child's individual needs. Before we can do this well however, teachers have to understand that there is a ridiculous amount of insight we can gain from others who work with kids in different supportive contexts. We have to get collaborative.
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