"System wide change is something a lot of people talk about, but I think it happens one classroom at a time. That's where the action is."
-- Doug Reeves, author of On Common Ground: The Power of Professional Learning Communities
Last weekend, I attended a conference for educators. Those of you who attend conferences in your own professions will no doubt recognize the experience of the “Exhibition Hall,” where salespeople call from the left and the right that they have THE solution to some problem that you face. I was reminded of the very keen understanding I've developed and live by that if we knew how to do education perfectly well for every child, we would all be doing it that way by now, and that teaching and learning remains the pursuit of questions and uncertainty, a science and art that is as much about humanity as it is about practice. When Doug Reeves stated the quote I've posted above, it resonated deeply. The action is indeed in the classroom: teacher by teacher, and small teaching move by small teaching move, minute of engaged thinking by minute.
So, here it is. Upon returning to Blue School, I arrived to another 10 letters in my Blue School Mail Spirits box. This culminating work by our first grade has brought our community together in ways we could not have anticipated. By following their questions and curiosities about the postal system, they elevated the art of writing and communication, brought kids and families together, and actually, changed Blue School. Their mail service will end April 1st, but they have actually changed us. They have much to be proud of.
Also this week, we learned that our very own Kindergarten engineers have been invited to build their proposal for a mini golf hole in this summer's FIGMENT Artist Mini Golf Course at the festival on Governor's Island. This class has pursued an extensive study of water, and began their year building water machines after becoming inspired by a local “water wall” installation. They wondered how water moves up and down, where it comes from, and how it can be moved. When invited to submit to FIGMENT on the theme of “Here to There,” they looked at all of the elements of the mini golf hole, drew ideas for designs, and then collaborated as one group to determine which idea would be submitted. Now, they are on to implementation, and plans are in formation.
So there you have it. There is no “buy it now” option in school. The answer is inside our classrooms, and in the questions young people ask and the intelligence and intuition -- and practices -- with which teachers listen.