I work at an amazing school with amazing colleagues and amazing kids. Although I am just finishing up my first year teaching here, there are many reasons why I love my school.
- I have the privilege of teaching kids I taught as middle school students. I cannot stress enough how awesome this is. I think one of the biggest reasons transitioning to high school was so easy for me was because of all of the familiar faces. There is something really special about teaching kids for more than one year. I think this is something that we should encourage more in education.
- I am given the freedom to be innovative. As teachers, we are often encouraged to try new things, but we aren’t often given complete freedom to do so. My school and program allows us to do just that. One of the innovations we are trying next year is teaching chemistry to all of our freshmen (usually biology freshmen year and chemistry sophomore year). We think the flip will lead to higher student gains. We also have a block of time with our kids next year where we can make our own daily schedule based on student needs.
- Our students are given freedom to be innovative. Because we have a project based program, students have a lot of freedom with the projects they pursue. Sometimes we give them guidelines attached very closely to standards, but sometimes the projects are very open. Our students are continuing to prepare for our STEM Maker Fest next month. The caliber of work and what the kids are doing is amazing. I know it’s going to be an incredible event. This project isn’t tied to specific content standards, and I am not even grading them on the project. It just goes to show that learning doesn’t need to be graded for validation!
- Our students are given incredible opportunities. I wrote a post a last month about one of my students who has filed for a copyright on the product her group created as a result of project. They are now almost ready to file for a patent. Because we have a great community of partners willing to work with our students, we are able to provide them with great experiences like this. I still can’t get over how cool it is to be filing for copyrights and patents as a student!
- Students want to stay after school to work! If you make the space available, kids will stay long after school is over to study, work with groups, or do other related activities. Even today we had several students staying after school to work on projects. One group is making a robot for their STEM Maker Fest activity. Prior to having this idea, no members of the group had ever done anything like this. They are building it from parts the robotics team had left over and almost have it ready to go. Plus, the robotics team members have been providing these students with assistance and mentoring. Is there anything cooler than kids mentoring each other?
- I have the best colleagues. For the first time in a long time, I can say that may colleagues are friends and like a family to me. I think it is so important to have people in your building who you can bounce ideas of off, share frustrations, and find solutions. I love that even though we teach all different subject areas we work together to make the best learning experiences for our students.
- We have incredible students. We have the best students. They do the most amazing things. They work hard and are innovative. I wrote just the other day about one example of how awesome our students are. They constantly amaze me. On Monday right after the last bell rang to end the day, the intercom buzzed with an announcement that there was a tornado warning. So instead of leaving, all of our students had to head to our shelter location. Since we are on the second floor, we moved to our safe hallway downstairs. We waited for nearly and hour, and although the kids wanted to go home, they were so good waiting. I could tell story after story about how incredible our kids are.
- We are making school different. Because we are free to be innovative, we are changing the traditional school setting. We are providing students with authentic experiences. We encourage our students to be creative. We work with our kids to help them work efficiently in the classroom which gives us time to work with struggling students and frees up time for them to work on projects. We’re still improving, but it looks a whole lot different from the traditional classroom.
I love my school. It is a great place to grow and learn – both for students and teachers. I feel very lucky to work here with my colleagues and students.