It’s just after 6am on my last day of work before summer, and I’m in a Starbucks having a coffee. I had to drop my daughter to her synchronized swimming practice and decided to just wake up a little early and head to school. Only after getting my coffee did I realize that the school I’m going to won’t be open yet and I don’t have a key for that school. So, here I am, iPad on my lap, sipping coffee and taking a look back at the year that was.
I said in a comment recently that I’m ending the toughest, and most exciting, and most tragic, and most rewarding school year that I’ve ever had.
A part of me wants to end the post right there… It was a dichotomous year! Done. Over-and-out. Here comes summer! So why am I still writing? I think that I’m hoping to make some sense out of things, and thinking hasn’t done that yet, maybe writing will. Not sure where this is heading yet, but glad that you could join me.
Yesterday, I went to a funeral. This mother of three, pillar in the community, and dear family friend died a senseless death. Tears are welling up in my eyes right now as I type. Maybe Starbucks isn’t the right place to be writing this? Maybe it is, because again the dichotomy strikes… Upbeat tempo reggae swirling in the background while I think of something so sad it almost physically hurts. I wrote back in January about a new tragedy of the commons and I’ve really felt this new social-emotional ‘crisis’ that has hit our world, our community, and me personally. This is a part of my year that I hope to leave behind. Let the sun set on this theme and let summer bring a new dawn.
On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with the Inquiry Hub. I’ve had the privilege of working with an amazing group of students, parents, educators, leaders, mentors and friends. After 7 years of blogging about transforming education, I now have the opportunity to do something completely outside the box. It has been an amazing year, and it has also been exhausting and hard! It has also come with responsibilities beyond the school that require an incredible amount of time and energy. This has left me questioning my capacity, and wondering on more than one occaison if I shouldn’t go back to being a classroom teacher… While also feeling like I wouldn’t want any other position in the world. When I was asked to share my input and intentions for next year I said, “Leave me here for at least three more years, at the very least I’d like to see the Grade 9’s at the Inquiry Hub graduate”.
I’m also excited about other aspects of my job. I believe that the future of education will be open and distributed, and that blended learning is where we are most likely to see amazing innovation. Working with Coquitlam Open Learning allows me to explore blended learning beyond the Inquiry Hub. But as Tony Bates says,
The main challenge is how to decide what is best done in class, and what online. There is a clear set of best practices and design models for fully online learning, but, other than the NCAT studies, we don’t have good models or at least well-tested models for hybrid learning.
How do we create meaningful blended experiences? How do we use our synchronous learning opportunities, in classes, seminars, virtual classrooms, and any other gatherings? One of my teachers had poetry/creative writing cafe’s for his face-to-face sessions in an online creative writing class, and he worked with the art department in his school to produce a shared journal of writing and artwork (and yes, we printed some paper copies of this too!) There are some interesting, exciting and challenging learning opportunities ahead for students and educators alike.
And yet, we live in an era where people talk about education being broken… Like ‘it’ is a thing we can dispose of. If something bad happens in one class, or one school, well then the whole system is failing. I’m as tired of that sentiment as I am of the emotional roller coaster I’ve had this year. There are some AMAZING educators doing creative things with students that we could not dream of just five years ago. It’s time to move on.
So goodbye 2012/2013 school year. The sun has set, and I’m moving on to a new day. I’m not going to wallow in what could have/should have been. I am going to look back at this year fondly, whether thinking about highlights like our Green Inquiry Successful Garden Building Day, or about someone dear to me that we have lost. Next year promises to be exciting and is filled with potential. That’s what I’m heading into summer thinking about!