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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Are we in the "Matrix" of our Education System?

Ever feel like you've been living in a dream world?

Our greatest goal is to educate students in a way that equips them with the tools for success, and that cultivates a culture of life-long learning. Our charge is to find a way to deliver this on a daily basis. We are providing the future with an opportunity to a better life.

Here are questions that cross my mind, from time-to-time...

How many individual students do I reach day in and day out?
How effective is the tone I set during instruction?
Do I find ways to connect and personalize the learning environment for each of the students in my room? Why don't I give students an exit ticket like a comment card at the end of a restaurant meal?
What is it that worries me about walking into a classroom and discovering that my method of teaching may not be as effective for the needs of the learners?
Do I matter?
Does this system of teaching - and learning - need an overhaul?

I think the teachers, indeed, have one of the greatest professions, the most profound, the scariest in magnitude, and ultimately, the most responsible in terms of future society and generations.

I know that's why I got into this job in the first place. I wanted to affect change. It's like that scene in "The Matrix" when Laurence Fishburne's character says something to Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) like, "you knew that there was something wrong, that something just wasn't quite right, but you weren't sure what it is," and he explains to him what The Matrix is and how he has been living in a fantasy world. Sometimes I feel like this might parallel our education system, and while it sounds critical, and it sounds like I'm in that dark place - perhaps being a naysayer or a pessimist - there is nothing further from the truth.

I want our schools to matter. I want my son - now in our public education system - to be excited about learning. I want to do the best job possible with the tools I am equipped with. And I am willing to take risks to do so.

I know many educators that feel the same way that I do. Our schools are the places where we live and breathe and work. When something doesn't quite feel right you know that change is needed. Whether it's engagement in the intermediate classroom, escalating behaviors, or a general difficulty in communicating with parents and school community - we are facing difficult times in terms of leading learning.

If we are to be successful in educating our students today with today's goals in mind for future successes and opportunities - we must be willing ourselves to try new things today. Things that we don't know off by heart. Things that we can't recite from our own school experiences, and perhaps, ask new questions that weren't even questions as little as five years ago.

This might seem like ramblings. Like some moral epiphany ala the Jerry Maguire. But this is actually how I feel. This is what I think - and I know I am not alone.

Schools have changed. Students had changed. Have teachers changed? A big question with a lot of ammunition waiting quietly behind it to ask more targeted questions. But I'm not afraid to ask it - are you?

I would love to hear what you think about our schools; about the way that we teach our students; about how you think things are done, and why, or if, things need to be closely examined?

Share your thoughts. Offer your ideas. Be a part of the change conversation.

I'll end with the ending words from the Matrix:

I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid. You're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries; a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.

What do you think? Are you part of "us' or part of "them?"

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