Reimagine School

I was texting a teacher friend about how her school year would begin. She got her preference to teach her first graders in person not virtually, and this year because of Covid 19 that means 12 kiddos, four days a week. She went early into her classroom and found it prepped with no rugs, desks instead of tables, those spread far apart, all her group games put away, and she cried.

This Fall, many tears will be shed. While everyone is making the best of it.

As a thought experiment, in this time of great limitations, I tried imagining-What would I like school to be? If everything were possible, what would I want to see?

I imagine children choosing where they want to be. Some cuddled on the sofa with a parent, or in a grandparents’ lap, with a book or game or computer. Some in their quiet corner, their ears nestled in headphones creating a world unto themselves with no distractions.

Some children could come to the school garden, and use a clipboard and magnifier, walking the paths, then settle onto a shady bench under a big shady tree. When they want a snack they can pick it- popping sun-warmed cherry tomatoes into their mouth, or pick a hard apple, a sweet chewy fig, a soft bright orange persimmon. Maybe pull up a carrot and wipe off the dirt.

At recess they could make fairy houses amongst the roots of the shady tree, or hustle with buddies on the basketball court.

Some children could join their teacher in whatever size groupings they wanted, at a picnic table outside, or inside at the “rainbow” curved table, or amongst floor pillows. Some might go to the art room because that is their favorite space and they love the light and the stools and the big tables.

Imagine the resources of the supply closet, and all the art and music and PE storage spaces being made available for projects. The library too, as many books as they want; just take care of them. Children get to choose between crayons, pencils, markers and paints. Choose the size of their paper. 2-D or 3-D- what kind of thinker are they? Choose the best ways to attach stuff together. Imagine the resources of the internet available for lessons and for research.

Imagine experiencing something, like your apple had a rotten spot, or you found a pill bug under a log, or you can feel the xylophone vibrate, or the different balls bounce different distances, or you started your period, or the newspaper told about fire tornados, or why do you get a cramp when you run hard, or so many things you might find of interest. Imagine then asking questions about it, then researching the questions. Then imagine sharing what you find with your friends, and then going on to repeat the cycle so you can answer other questions you thought of, or your friends came up with.

And sometimes you share what you found by talking, sometimes by writing, and also by drawing, by building, by video, by… what else? You tell me!

And I imagine that we remember to be silly sometimes, and that there is room to be sad. And we also make time to celebrate progress made, stuff made, what is accomplished. Ponder what has been overcome. Celebrate, together, some way, somehow.

Tracing shadows at school, for real

3 thoughts on “Reimagine School

  1. Beautiful! But I imagine that you are the kind of teacher who makes magic like this happen more often than anyone knows. I love your ideas for expressing learning in so many different ways.


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