Friday, July 18, 2014

“Be the guide on the side and less of a sage on the stage”


The emphasis now placed upon science education in America is to move the ball forward
toward the goal of increased science literacy for all. Many interests from a wide spectrum of
stakeholders are in play and demand change in how we deliver learning opportunities to our
children in our schools. Professionally, as educators, it is our responsibility to facilitate this
change and morally it is now an imperative.

The district-wide curriculum committee, in early June, did just that by taking on the responsibility to
support a commitment to a new science curriculum model that involves tearing down current
academic silos, while extending the reach of learning in a cross-disciplinary manner within the school.
This new curriculum model, aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and support by
research on the effectiveness of project-based science initiatives, will both inspire and motivate
student learning. It truly is a better working model for education because it demonstrates how
people collaborate and communicate with each other to solve problems together in the real-world.

 This process of reinventing learning in the classroom is a reconceptualization of the
fundamental nature of teaching and learning itself. It is not just another mechanism for
delivering curriculum to students. As described in the book, The Fourth Way by Hargreaves
and Shirley, this fundament shift that we associate with respect to this new curriculum
initiative will, “restore greater autonomy from government and introduces more openness to
and engagement with parents and communities...this is a democratic and professional path
to improvement that builds from the bottom, steers from the top and provides support and
pressure from the sides. Through high-quality teachers committed to and capable of creating
deep and broad teaching and learning, it builds powerful responsible and lively professional
communities in an increasingly self-regulatory but not self-absorbed or self-seeking profession.”

From my perspective, as a science teacher beginning my 20th year at Streamwood
High School, I believe that we are at a historic turning point and a momentous time of crisis
in education. This crisis presents great opportunity for educators to embrace dramatic
transformations in our habits, and beliefs. At this juncture we must make daring and disruptive
changes, not incremental adjustments, but the genius of this effort will come from a strong
position of professional commitment and responsibility.

Over the past 20 year I have had  the privilege to be associated with some of the most creative and innovative educators in our district that seize innovative opportunities and help to increase our students capacity to learn and to be successful in life. Historically, as a school district, we have embraced change as the means to reach for continued student success in the classroom. Fundamentally it is this openness to change and willingness to pursue it that is one of our greatest strengths.

 Professional autonomy to design and implement needed reforms in how we deliver
educational value to our students will be the catalyst for extraordinary innovation in the
classroom. Being the guide on the side instead of the sage on the stage is really an educational
and philosophical priority that can be a rallying point and a model of learning that we embrace.
If creative and dynamic educators can model innovation in the classroom that is both inspiring
and meaningful then we can change education in a way that is transformational and long-lasting.