We've been taught and told for a long time that change is hard, and in many ways, this holds true as sustainable long-term change is difficult to establish and maintain in an organization. Launching change though doesn't have to be hard or a take a long-time. Change can happen when a group of like minded people look each other in the eyes and decide that the status quo is poorly serving the ecosystem. They can make a decision to move forward and do the right thing fully understanding that barriers and excuses could knock them off the rails if they allow it, but that they aren't enslaved by those barriers and excuses as a part of their career choice.
The desire of a passionate group of people to make change can't be underestimated because it is how real change happens. I imagine this type of change almost every day. It can be heard in my optimism for education. It can be seen in the words that I write, and it can be felt in the learning that I facilitate. I want to start change. Because every time I look into the eyes of a five year old and think to myself that hopefully in ten years the people supporting your learning will finally make the changes that you deserve, it tears into my soul.
Think for a moment about what it would look like if a faculty came together and said next year we are going to stop doing the things that don't best support kids, and we are going to replace them with the things that bolster learning. Then this group went to the leadership, kids, and the community and explained with deep passion the reason for the changes and how these were the steps necessary for real reform in real time. What could their school look like by August?
Could it be a school that didn't give report cards, but built a system of portfolios to showcase learning? Could it be school that didn't give homework, but relied on the passion and interest of kids to drive incredible learning at home? Could it be a school that refused to give out worksheets that focused on memorization and knowledge attainment, but instead relied on problem based learning and a maker culture for deeper understanding to be a reality.? Could it be a school that ditched the textbook and focused on instructional units built and designed by teachers using open education resources? Could it be a school that eliminated desks, but used brain-based research to design learning spaces that truly worked for kids? Could it be a school that eliminated early starting times to shift to a more developmentally appropriate time for learning? Could it be a school that eliminate parent conferences, but focused on constant communication? Could it be a school that minimized external summative assessments, but relied on excellent local formative assessments to guide learning?
This would be a school that embraced fun, play, and discovery and focused on words, story, and kindness. This type of change doesn't have to be a work of fiction. It will just take stopping the habits of adults and the inertia of school as we know it. This change is possible, and a dedication to this vision by all in the system could make a sustainable impact on kids and learning as we know it.
Could the time be right?