Sunday, June 2, 2013

In reading Michael Fullan's book Stratosphere, thank you Director of Education, he talks about using Empathy,  Focus, Impute, creating a magnetism,  and Challenges as the cornerstones of building a successful program. 

SOLE needs these four pillars in order to have students be successful.
Empathy: It has to meet the needs of the kids, reducing the stress in their lives. It has to be of direct interest to them which makes their learning more personal and relevant. It means they need to take charge of their learning.
Focus: Topics developed by the students need to expand and challenge their minds and abilities. Their coming up with their own topics is the first step. Leading the students towards understanding and solving social issues is the second focus. It provides real life problems that they can examine, care about, and follow.
Impute: It is a simple process the kids must follow. Learning, on one hand, should be all over the map using this process but at the same time it must be as simple as possible so that ideas flow around the main focus. Students need to be shown that learning is fun and that they are capable of learning anything they choose to learn. It must be based on the needs of the kids, always building on their skills and knowledge. The kids need positive reinforcement and discussion to grow.
Challenges: Need to be anticipated and developed so that the focus continues on it's trajectory. One of the main challenges now is engaging students more, especially those who tend to be reserved or lazy. The need to prove, with evidence that this is working is also a concern. Too many people will write it off without the necessary proofs of it's value. Working with but also keeping a few steps ahead of admin is necessary because I do not like to be surprised  by their support or criticism. In the end to me it is irrelevant because doing what is best for the students to get optimal learning should be the focus, not drawbacks.. Anticipating challenges to what we are doing because it challenges the status quo.  Again people are not ready to move past what they know until they see it working. Developing professional and societal support for the project is a must. I am pretty sure that from the response to this by parents that they are in support. The judgement will be out on what society thinks because it is not traditional in the box, this is what I went through, learning. 
The ultimate goal is engaging the kids. This means their behaviours are more in line with what societal expectations are or beyond them. This results in less bullying, drug use, antisocial behaviours and crime. Students make better use of their time. The more they become immersed in projects the happier they become. More learning takes place and with that everyone is happy.
It sort of sounds pie in the sky but the fact that most of what is here is already happening in my class over the past two months leads me to believe that we are on to something. I expect bigger and better things before too long.