Saturday, April 23, 2016

Grandma = Game Changer

At least in my own mind, I'm young and hip (my teenagers will tell you I am NOT hip, they would use words like "embarrassing" or "mortifying"). Far too young to be a grandma....but 12 days ago, I became one.

It's amazing how being a mom changes you (or a dad but I wouldn't know since I'm not a man). Being a grandparent though? 

Total. Game. Changer.

It's quite remarkable how much this has changed me. It isn't a secret to anyone that I plan to open my own school in the very near future. It will be independent (not affiliated with any specific district) because I want to do things a certain way that I think most districts would be leery of. Totally understandable which is why I don't plan to pitch my idea to my own district or any others nearby. I'll do it on my own.

But since having this new person enter my life, my purpose and mission for it has shifted. Now, instead of thinking "what kind of school would I want my kids to attend?" the question has shifted to "what kind of school do I want for my grandchild(ren)?"

It's a relatively subtle shift in the question...but it's powerful. This young boy is not even two weeks old and everything I thought I knew has now been put through my "grandma" lens...and some things are being tweaked. Does that mean I don't care about my own kids anymore? Of course not....

But my kids are all beyond the elementary stage. My younger two are going to be in 8th and 9th grade next year. My school will be K-5 (possibly K-8 but I doubt it...I really want to stick to what I know best). Therefore, the experiences my own kids have had in elementary school will certainly shape some of the things I'd like to change, but my focus is on what kind of school would I want my grandson to be attending.

While it's tempting to jump on the edu-jargon bandwagon and proclaim that a new school would be innovative, creative, project-based, implement STEM projects (and every other current trend), what I want to do is create a safe, caring environment where all kids are met at their level. Their learning is personalized based upon the standards, not some arbitrary sequence in a text book. Play and creativity is encouraged and fostered. Kids are held accountable. Their parents are partners and treated as such. 

My vision for my school has been relatively consistent for the last two years, but now it has shifted. What kind of learning environment do I want for my grandson to grow up in? What kind of learning experiences will be necessary to foster his imagination? How can the curriculum support curiosity and inquiry while instilling "soft skills" and rigor in our kids?

I always tell people it's not enough to sit around and complain about the current state of education. We have to go out and DO something about what we don't like. The closer I get to my dissertation, the more I realize that this is true. We have to push back, we have to stand up and we have to think about the next generation: what, ultimately, kind of school system do we want when our legacy (grandchildren) get to kindergarten? 

For me, it would look nothing like how school looks today.

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