Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blog Assignment #1

If I Built My Own School, What Would It Be Like?

Sunshine cartoon

Krissy Vendosdale's blog post, If I Built A School, paints a picture of a school environment filled with life, learning and creativity. Her idea about "20% time" gives the students, as well as teachers, the opportunity to express themselves and spend time cultivating new or familiar passions.

The TED Talk by Sugata Mitra reminded me that a school can come in all shapes and sizes. It's interesting that all over the world, even amidst poverty and sometimes difficult circumstances, children who are given the opportunity will take the initiative to learn (and enjoy doing it) with or without a teacher or a formal classroom. Dr. Strange has talked about how important it is to be an engaged and eager learner, and this really put that into perspective. There are children all over the world who have so little and are so eager to learn, I think we can all learn something from them and be a little more eager, ourselves!

If I could build a school, it would be a place where students feel free to learn, create, relax and have fun. Students' comfort and a positive atmosphere would be a high priority. I feel that in order for students to get the most out of their education, they need to feel safe and at ease in the classroom. A policy to address bullying would be implemented, and I would be sure to get to know each teacher I hired. It is important to me that the instructors are positive and compassionate because they set the tone in the class room.

I would include students from kindergarten to high school, so I could reach as many children as possible. Ideally, I would have several different buildings to group the students based on grade level. For instance, I would not want to overwhelm sixth graders by having them in the same building as high school students.

Every class room would use hands-on, project based learning techniques. I would want each student to be well-rounded, while at the same time pursuing his or her personal passions and abilities. I would have a program similar to Krissy Venosdales '20% time' to support as many varied and interesting subjects as possible.

The school would contain a fully equipped art studio, a comfortable and well-stocked library, and an up to date technology lab. Students would also have access to a large garden area where they could enjoy time outdoors, learn about plants, healthy eating and caring for the environment.

What I Want My Students To Know
I want my students to know they are safe to express themselves, be creative, and share their opinions and ideas.

My Primary Way Of Teaching My Students
I will be a hands on teacher who is involved and learns with my students.

What I Want My Students To Be Able To Do
I want my students have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful both academically and in life.

Tools I Will Use In My Classroom
I will also use as many technological tools as are available to me, as well as supplies for art, music and physical education.

The Role My Students Will Play
I want my students to be tuned in, have fun and actively participate in their education.

Time Management

Procrastination, trouble setting goals and staying on track are issues many students deal with. Dr. Strange suggested we watch a video of Randy Pausch's time management tips. Pausch was a college professor made famous after giving his students what he called his 'Last Lecture'. The lecture went viral and he became known and respected for his inspirational speaking. Pausch gave an abbreviated version of The Last Lecture on The Oprah Winfrey Show a few years ago, and it was also made into a book. I have been a fan of Pausch's for a few years, but I've never heard him speak about time management until this video.

I have to admit that some days I do a lot of what Randy calls 'polishing the bottom of the banister'... these are the days when I need to focus on my goals, make lists and stick to them!

Pausch makes a good point that Americans are much more concerned with money than time, not realizing that time is a commodity. We could all benefit from keeping in mind that time is finite and should be managed just as carefully, if not more so, than money.

I thought the point Pausch raised about asking 'Why?' was important. He reminds us to look at our to do lists, and ask ourselves why we are doing each thing on it and what we will gain from it. What goal will it help to achieve? The power of intention is important.


  1. Anna Kern, I really enjoyed reading your views on your blog! I LOVED how you wanted a garden in your school for your students to be able to enjoy the outdoors, and inspire healthy eating habits. I thought it was exceptional that you too, want to create a project-based learning environment for your students. Learning with your students stood out to me, because most teachers do not look a there classrooms in that aspect. That is also something I will instill in my own classroom as well! Thank you for sharing your view on how you would like to manage and pursue your classroom. I will engage in some of your techniques in my own classroom!

  2. "... even a midst poverty..." Remove the space between a and midst

    "...A policy for bullying would be implemented,..." to prevent or to address, not for

    "I would have several different buildings to keep the students separated based on grade level." So you don't like Ms, Venosdale's gradeless school? You even want the grades separated?