Learn about readings by Neil Postman, Lois Hetland, Howard Gardner, Dennis Yuzenas, Abe Fischler, Dan Pink, Thomas Friedman, John Corlette, Will Sutherland, Tom vander Ark, Marshall Thurber and other innovative educators.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
The Role of Adults in Schools
If I were a parent, I would look around for adults to volunteer to come into my child’s school. What is Gates really saying? “Education is everyone’s business” (even his business).
If you want to help reshape education while getting more attention for your child, make an effort to become a mentor. You don’t have to be a parent to provide this valuable service (to yourself as well as to the community).
Stay focused. Yes, school administrators need volunteers to help with photocopying, newspaper recycling, reorganizing closets. Ask to work as a teacher’s assistant. Get in contact with students.
Listen. The usual use of a visitor in a school is to stand the adult at the front of the classroom and ask for a speech. Instead, the teacher could give you a small group of students and you could spend time in a corner of the room finding out if there’s any “click” or connection. Ask the students, “What is your passion? What do you like to read about?” Many kids just need a chance to talk in order to discover their interests.
Return. Often. Frequent contact makes a difference. It takes seven exposures for most people to learn a new concept and many kids need to see an adult several times before your “message” gets through. Promise to return, then follow through. Be anticipated.
You don’t need a speech or special talent. Your presence is a present to students who see the same adults in the same profession (teachers). If you aren’t a teacher, that’s good. Remember what Gates said: “Make sure kids have a number of adults who know them, look out for them, and push them to achieve.”
If you’re curious about how a school engages mentors, visit BigPicture.org and watch the videos online. The Met, a Big Picture school in Providence, Rhode Island, is where the new three “R”s were developed. The formula mentioned by Gates appeared in Dennis Littky’s book, The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone’s Business.
Well, I could write more, but I’ve got to go. You see, I’m a mentor, too, and a student is waiting for me.
Steve McCrea is an independent educator in Fort Lauderdale.
I am a taxpayer and I believe that teachers, students, principals and parents need descriptions of a new way of teaching. I wake up every morning with Dr. Fischler's question in my head: "How do you become a visible change agent in this environment?" and "Time is a variable" and "The Student is the Class." The words of Daniel H. Pink, Will Sutherland, John Corlette, Eliot Levine, Elliot Washor, Charles Mojkowski and Dennis Littky inform my daily work.