First off, I have to say that the staff that participated was amazing! The open minds, deep conversations and already exemplary teaching styles were quite evident. However, nothing made me more amazed than the comment the principal said at the end of the session. After the applause to the presenter, the thank yous and handshakes the principal stood up, looked at his staff and said:
“Imagine if you were driving down the highway in a brand new 2011 Mustang. The cops have all been called away from the road, the deer have been contained, and all other drivers are giving you the full road to explore and try out this new car”
“Ummm…ok” said a teacher in the crowd
The principal paused then started again
“Now let’s take this to a classroom. One day next week, let’s pretend there are no final exams, no unit tests, no marks to update, no mandated curriculum, and no one from Alberta Education to tell you what to teach. Take one day and let your students explore their own learning. Using the taught strategies in this session, open the “learning” doors for students and just let them discover something that as meaning to them”.
If hugging was socially acceptable I would have given this administrator the biggest one ever. Driving home, I thought of “What would schools look like if all administrators gave this chance to their teachers? What if every day was this special day? What if the needs of the students overpowered the needs to teach the curriculum?
I hope all his staff follow through with his directive and truly allow for authentic and autonomous learning to occur, if only for one day.
Awesome job Mr. Principal, I have found another individual who I would feel honored to call my boss!