I give up! I can’t design a whole school! But, I do know what aspects of “school” have inspired me over the years.
My favourite years of teaching Grade 7 and 8 English were the ones where we moved into the library. It was a large space that was only really used one day a week when our itinerant library technician was “in the house.” Roughly divided into thirds, the front featured a large table for class meetings and group work, the middle had arm chairs and a round coffee table, and the back was equipped with 6 older desktop computers, and a lot of desks and tables that we used to make group work areas. It was heaven – in an early 2000s sort of way.
We made plans to share our technology – I had the six computers, six students with SEA laptops, and a cart with eight more ancient laptops. We had one D-link router, and our IT technician kindly found us a second one, so we could go online, use the LMS, carry out research, etc.
I spent a lot of time using a cable to jumpstart... er, connect laptops to the internet, and learned a lot about the board’s network in the process.
In today’s world, in our board, we are so far beyond this. But our basic needs for both structure and creativity were met in our library classroom, and would remain the same for me today. (OK, faster wireless is most welcome!) One of my most delightful moments was walking into the central area, and seeing our EA conducting an impromptu reading circle. I also had the chance to connect with each student personally and somewhat privately every day.
This flexible space allowed us to accomplish so much. And so that would be the cornerstone of my personal school.
Did we have to discuss behaviour issues? Yes. But we would have had different ones in a regular classroom – after all this is a middle school:) But in our library-English class home, many barriers to learning fell, and we all moved forward.
Another aspect of my ideal school revolves around the people. I would like my school to populated by teachers who are always willing to try new ideas, with enough EAs to support our students and with a principal who fosters partnerships and encourages learning – in the broadest sense.
In fact, that might be the most important foundation for my perfect school.