One of the keys to success as an educator is learning how to steal great ideas. The best way to steal great ideas is to go on on a learning walk. For the record, of course I am not talking about the unethical practice of taking from others. When you allow yourself time and the freedom to wander around the school and witness the works of others it can be an enlightening experience.
Yesterday I was given the opportunity to visit every K-4 classroom at MVPS with Nicole Martin. We held ourselves to a quick pace and caught a glimmer of each classroom. So this was not an in depth analysis of educational practice but it was very insightful. During one class we saw students working independently, exploring various way to learn and practice math. This reminded me that students need to have choice in how they learning. In another class student were prepping for a debate. Each student was spread out in various corners of the room reading and gathering information to create an argument. Debate sound like a sophisticated endeavor but scaffolding properly all levels can create a valid argument.
I witnessed second graders working in teams to craft public service announcements. Some students creating posters and some writing messages to warn of the dangers of smoking. I even was able to enjoy snack time while kindergarteners listen to an engaging book. These moments allowed me to reflect on the joy of learning and the impact curiosity can have on the learning environment.
The learning walk was capped off by hearing the stories of students shopping at Home Depot. They are in the midst of planting an organic garden and realize that wild animals like spinach also. These fourth graders designed a plan to combat the critters and had to purchase the necessary items to bring their ideas to life. Real World problem solving in action. Next step learning walks on the Upper School Campus.