CHANGEd: What if instead of counting the days, we made the days count? 60-60-60 #37

When my sons are engaged in something they love and I try to end it, they say, “Just 5 more minutes please!”

One of my favorite moments in a classroom occurs when no one hears the bell because all are engrossed in what they are learning and doing.

I cannot tell you how many people recently are asking me, “So, are you counting the days until school ends?” Without any intent of obnoxiousness, I tend to answer, “Actually, Camp Sea Gull taught me not to count the days, but to make the days count.” As excited as I am for my next career chapter, I am loving what I am doing. I may not even hear the bell that signals summer vacation for the non-administrative types. I hope I am making the days count! What if we lived in such a way that we spread this model – to make the days count? What if we looked forward to the NOW, and taught students to do the same?

What would class and school look like…if at the “end” they begged for “Just 5 more minutes please!”

CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60 Project Explained

CHANGEd: What if we amplified the bright spots of lunch, recess, and PE? 60-60-60 #36

As a child, I LOVED school. I still love school. Interestingly, though, I can remember often telling others that my favorite things about school were lunch, recess, and P.E. I still hear students repeat this refrain. My own first-grade son retells events from lunch, recess, and PE far more often than other details. Is it the freedom to move around, choose, and explore? Is it the time to talk more freely and process one’s tales and experiences? What makes lunch, recess, and PE so popular? What if we amplified the bright spots of lunch, recess, and PE? How might we copy success and sprinkle the magic of these moments across a curriculum and schedule?

CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60 Project Explained

CHANGEd: What if schools were more like summer camps? 60-60-60 #19

This “CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60” post is inspired and sparked directly from Ross Peters’ March 24, 2012 post: How Summer Camp Should Inform School.

In my past, I attended Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain, NC, and I served as a counselor and administrator at Camp Sea Gull in Arapahoe, NC. As Ross writes in his post, I remember fondly the enormous space and time to explore and discover. There were generally three “periods” – morning, afternoon, and evening. Campers pursued new opportunities and old loves of deep interest, and we enjoyed “I-can-really-accomplish-something” chunks of time.

Choice and time are powerful cabin mates.

Most importantly, the best of summer camp includes the space—literally and figuratively—for young people to become both more independent and more empathetic. ~ Ross Peters, March 24, 2012 blog post.

CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60 Project Explained

Learning is the constant. Let’s re-examine time in 2012.

“Learning is the constant. Time and support – the variables.”

For far too long, it has been the other way around. I hear and say the above quote so often, that I forget when and where I learned it first. I believe I heard the first utterance from Rick or Becky DuFour, the Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi of PLCs.

Just today, I discovered an excellent article at Edutopia that addresses the core of the opening quote:

It’s Time to Rethink the Hours America Spends Educating

I wonder sometimes what would happen if we treated faculty initiatives as “student-like classes.” What would happen if we allowed every faculty member the same exact number of days and hours to learn/accomplish a new technology, process, pedagogy, or procedure? (I would have been “in trouble” more than a few times!) In my experience, though, we allow for different learning bases, paces, and rhythms for faculty – without (outwardly) tracking them as “regular” or “honors.” Of course, the same could be said of administrators and learning, too. (Use of Google Docs and email search features come to mind… “Can you re-send me that email with that attachment? I can’t seem to find it.”)

No, let’s not change the adult time-pattern to match the student time-pattern. Let’s change the student pattern to match the adult pattern – learning should be the constant. We did not all learn to walk and talk at the same developmental month, nor at the same pace. As adults, we don’t constrain ourselves to the same time progression as school learning for quizzes and tests. Why do we treat  students so differently? Efficiency? What about effectiveness, instead!

Perhaps you see that we are already in such a transformed place – where time and support are the variables, and learning is the constant. What do you think?

[Note: I’ve been in this discussion many times. With one colleague, he found fault with me for perceiving that I was demanding “limitless time” for school. For the record, I don’t think I am asking for such a boundless solution. However, I think the artists and scientists who are educators can devise more creative solutions than currently exist with the 50-55 minute class periods that dominate an approximately 180 day school calendar.]

Good, not fast

It happened again this week. If I had to guess, I would say it was the 9,234th time. A teacher was talking about quizzes and tests with time limits. The exchange goes something like this:

Frustrated teacher: “Bo, there must be time limits. He could not finish the test in the 55 minutes. He is just going to miss those points of the questions he did not get to. He’ll learn to work faster.” [And here it comes…the dreaded statement for the 9,234th time…] “Do you want a doctor operating on you that could not complete the tests in a specified time?”

Me: “How will you know what the student really knows and understands? Will that grade really measure learning, or will it be confounded by too many other variables? Are your standards time standards or mastery standards? And, by the way, I want a good doctor, not a fast one.”

I challenge anyone to find the time-ranges data for typical operations and surgery. I bet there is a significant range of times for different docs performing appendectomies, bone sets, etc. May all my doctors have found mastery of their skills and concepts rather than beat-the-competition speed.