What is happening at your school that is so powerful that you wouldn’t want any child, anywhere, deprived of the experience?

I’ve been asking this question as part of presentations I’ve made for years, typically after showing John Lozano’s impressive Dads and Dudes on Duty from the Easterbrook Discovery School. The video shows how the cool way they engage students’ dads and special dudes in the students’ learning.

November brought me another way of thinking about this question.

I spent two weeks in Beijing, partly to work with a team at a school there, partly to explore a city I’d never visited, and partly to attend a conference called The Future of Education Now (FOEN).

The host school, the Western Academy of Beijing, is a place where they constantly ask how to improve what they do. In the process, they build what I call an “exploratory culture.” As I see it, this professional frame is one that minimizes the chances of falling into ruts, and allows the educators there to effectively explore the personal and professional possibilities of teaching.

With FOEN, they invited the world into their space to engage in the discussion of what is next in terms of education, and the over 600 attendees from schools around the world joined in with fervor. An added point of off-the-charts coolness was the participation of Jane Goodall (below, sharing with a group gathered for afternoon tea). #presenceofgreatness

There is a difference, of course, between showcasing what a school does, and engaging with other professionals to share and learn from their ideas, and the WAB people pulled off this second, far more interesting approach to the conference beautifully.

If your professional team were to host visitors from around the world, what would you share, and how would you work to use what you learn from them to improve what you make happen?

That’s a question of process over content, and it is a priority that seems to characterize many of the strongest schools I’ve visited around the globe.

image by Rushton Hurley (CC by 4.0)

A big thanks to Sandra, Dave, and Mark for their comments on The Computer Says You’re Not Paying Attention, my post about devices designed to keep kids focused during class. I’d agree that the idea of something on my head telling someone else that I am losing focus is not all that appealing, and all the more so for using it as a system-wide tool.

Whether it could be of help to some students is a different question.

Categories: school leaders

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