Lately I have found myself dreaming of a lot of things. I imagine it is the impact of WandaVision in my life. This notion of being able to alter reality with a thought. I am not a believer in the teacher= superhero nonsense, this year especially I am just too tired but I think that is where dreaming has come in so wonderfully handy. We can dream about what we don’t yet have and maybe, we can bring some of those dreams forward, alter reality.
Our school is hiring a new Principal tomorrow. Lately I have been dreaming about the school I could one day lead. The potential. The ability to bring change, alter reality, even by a little bit.
I dream about how I might help bring the beliefs of my classroom to the school. Seeing my students for their excellence as Dr. Gholdy Muhammad says and I have put on my wall and cite often. Giving them the chance to grow, to find their genius that is just under the surface ready to celebrated. To create a school community where our excellence adorns the walls in words. What about a school where parents come in and know what we value because it can’t be missed? What about a school that every student is seen, celebrated and knows that we have their back? What about a school where our practice as teachers honours our unique learners? What about a school where teachers are excited about the discomfort that learning new, improved pedagogy always brings at first, like lifting new weight in the gym? How do we create that school?
I think we start by accepting that we are not there yet. I think we start by looking at what we can do better. We start with the community. How do we build a community from so many different pieces and make it one? The thought of advisory classes came to mind. Building groups of grade 7-12 students to work together and learn together for moments of every day. I think there is such potential for greatness, mentorship and friendships being formed all while building a whole school community. As we work to build those connections more excellence will be noticed. More genius discovered. Community from a collection of pieces.
Community is only part of the puzzle, an important one but not the whole puzzle. I dream about schools where learning and celebrating that learning comes in the form of student driven inquiry and effective instruction that sparks that curiosity and drive to explore. I dream of classes of students seeing issues and taking what they have learned in class and applying that learning to try and solve those issues. The last few weeks as my students look at isolation and identity they have looked at possible solutions for food insecurity. Their science teacher has them researching issues around agriculture and trying to propose solutions. We are not abandoning “skills” instruction we are just weaving it in to real life problems and chances to show our learning to solve them. Students are practicing real life reading, researching and writing. What if we were doing that across the school? What if every student had the chance to take that spark of curiosity and ignite a fire of inquiry work that demonstrates the skills stated in the curriculum in an authentic way? What if the kids who loved tests could take them and those who displayed their excellence in other ways could choose that?
This would, of course, take learning on our part as teachers but what is our job if not to facilitate our students genius to shine? This week I have had multiple students visit with me about their struggles with testing. Completely unsolicited. Stopped by to say hi to them not knowing they were studying and their stress was visible. “Mr. Gilson I do so well in class, tests don’t show what I know but they are my grade” I dream of a school where we are working for that student’s excellence to shine through even if that means as teachers we need to reflect, grow and change our practices away from those that dim our students’ shine.
I am not going to stop dreaming about what could be. It is too important. A school that works to honour the excellence of all of our students, celebrating their genius and the unique and important role they play in our school community. A community of learners, students, teachers and administration. All working to be the best we can be for each other. That is the dream and one day it is going to be a reality. One day.