Note: This is part of a series of reflective posts that form part of a university course that I am taking. I hope that you will find something valuable in my reflections as well.
In September I will be moving to a brand-new school. As in, construction isn't even finished yet. As in, everything will be shiny, new and untouched. See also: glass everywhere, very open-concept and approximately zero storage. This, as far as the architects have decided, is the school of the future.
There is no living wall at the moment...I'm curious to see if it ever happens.
It is gorgeous - light-filled, airy and welcoming. A far cry from the squat, cinder block rectangles I'm used to. Designed to facilitate collaboration, the classrooms are all connected with sliding walls and glass garage doors that open to common project spaces. We will be teaching in multi-grade learning communities with upwards of a hundred students in each community. Our teaching will be guided by the First Peoples Principles of Learning, the OECD 7+1 Framework and the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum. This, my friends, is what a 21st century school should be.
Or is it? Designed for a primarily digital learning environment, there is little storage space in the classrooms. Already, I am wondering what I will do with my beloved book collection, something that I have worked hard to build and feel is an invaluable tool in sparking and fostering a love of reading in my students (see here, from Pernille Ripp, about the value of classroom libraries). Where do teachers store the manipulatives that so many learners need to actually touch and feel as they move through their learning? How do we celebrate physical creations so that students who thrive working with their hands feel seen and valued?
These are just some of the questions that I'm sure will come up as we begin to welcome students into this beautiful new space. I trust that our staff will answer these questions as best we can, hopefully laughing as we learn.
As I move into this new experience, I am wondering about the need for balance - between the digital and natural world, between collaboration and quiet reflection, between online connection and connection IRL. For the first time in a long time, the educational pendulum seems to be swinging in circles, veering from centering technology to centering land-based learning, emphasizing collaboration to recognizing the needs and value of the quieter kids. Perhaps this is representative of a larger societal struggle with these ideas, families wanting what's best for their kids but not really knowing what that is in this rapidly changing world. My hope is that I can learn enough to approach my own practice with intention and purpose, to be able to support students as they learn to "successfully wield the abundance at their fingertips" (from Why School: How Education must change when learning and information are every where by Will Richardson. Emphasis my own).
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about living life with my family, teaching and learning something new all the time. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!