So, if you’re like me… you’ve experienced some pretty radical changes in your environment and philosophy on education within the past two years. You’ve moved from the tall-grass plains of Highlands, TX, where you taught for seven years at a small college-preparatory boarding school for inner-city youth, to the city of Boston, where you returned to being a student and let “nothing ventured, nothing gained” drive your motivation for increasing your pedagogical philosophy. Now, you’re in Philadelphia, and you’re starting a school. These are some of the tenets you’ve explored and/or cogitated independently or with others while on this new adventure:
- The goals of the school / Its philosophy and mission
- Other educational programs offered by the school
- Supervisory & Curriculum Development
- Core Curriculum Alignment with PA Standards
- School Schedule
- Differentiating Instruction to meet the needs of a diverse student population
- Assessment/Evaluation Tools
- Instructional Materials
- Special Needs
- Family Engagement
- Positive Transitions between grade level
- Professional Development
I’ve had my hand/heart/ideas in many of these endeavors. Most of the time, I’ve had to tip the scales of my own experiences and biases towards education and the context in which that education exists. Even though I am the English and Humanities Coordinator, I consider myself mostly to be the Chief Writing Officer, driven to have the students see themselves as great writers, no matter what.
So, how do I do that? I am using “Collaborize” to have them explore their relationships to talent. I ask them various questions from which they may choose, and I have them think about how a particular “Tip” from the novel The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving your Skills work work on them. It’s a very personal process, but I am trying to make it more collaborative, more team-oriented, and my intent is to have them see the inter-dependence of improving our talent.
I ask them questions like: 1) what is the tip specifically asking them to? 2) why did you select this particular tip this week? 3) how are you going to practice/apply this tip? 4) will you need to modify anything with this tip to make it fit your academic or athletic career? If so, what? 5) How will know if you are successful with this tip? 6) would you recommend this tip to others?
I pose these questions as guiding questions. Since all of my students are student-athletes, whom I call soccer-scholars, I see them as youth constantly under pressure to be the best, to be perfect, competing for limited spots and leadership roles on teams. I see my role as getting them to create their own pressure rather than relying on external or environmental pressures to germinate. What do I want to do? I want to create a space where students are comfortable to voice their confusions. Maybe I need to take a tip from The Little Book of Talent.