On Authentic Learning

Our staff recently talked about a section of Ron Berger's book Ethic of Excellence. It was a fantastic conversation, and I didn't feel like I could leave the conversation at its conclusion. I wrote this e-mail to staff as a follow-up.


Thank you to everyone for great conversation surrounding the article on Wednesday. I always appreciate the fact that I work with really smart people, but these conversations are huge reminders of this. Your insight, experience, and thoughtfulness shines through in these moments.

It is impressive that all of us are thinking about helping kids to learn in long form beyond tests, quiz, and rote homework. The idea of learning through doing is embedded in each of us, and I hope to continue to support, mold, and be a spokesperson for this type of learning for our school as long as I am here.

As we move forward in this philosophy of finding authentic learning opportunities, I encourage you to move slowly at a pace that is sustainable for you and your classroom, but do so with a sense of urgency because for each year of development another class misses out on your best ideas.

I too am scared about how hard that we can push into this type of learning. Questions like: how does this work effectively in math? can we cover all the skills needed in our classes? is our community ready for us to push further in this realm? resonate within me as well, but I'm not sure research and study will ever bring us clear answers on this.

Instead, I propose that we lean forward, do what feels right for kids, make mistakes in the process, and take risks because I feel confident that authentic learning, the kind learning that comes from expeditions, high quality projects, integrated learning, and reflection, will bring us the results that we are looking for. These results will include academic passion, creativity, leadership, and an internal drive to do more.

I'm looking forward to Monday as it is again another chance to help kids grow as students and citizens
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