This school year promises to be something extraordinary. Instead of another mind-numbing grind against the sandstone of content standards, state testing and student under-performance (and frustration all around), I am one of three educators who have been handed the great honor of delivering handpicked digital curriculum to our middle school students – and nothing but digital curriculum!
My colleagues and I who are so fortunate to participate in this project know just enough (hopefully) to create structure for our students, and to craft a safe and fun environment for them to explore. We all fully expect many students to quickly surpass our own knowledge in many of these areas as they explore – and there can be no more exciting thought as an educator.
This endeavor is requiring a paradigmatic shift in thinking and in my approach to teaching, but it is one that I am all too happy to attempt. For far too long I feel like I have been a slave to the soul-crushing machinery of standards and testing, where the classroom was a space in which I struggled to survive emotionally amidst a sea of underachieving students who, it seemed, only cared less and less for the content that I was trying to “teach” them (mathematics) as the years rolled by. But now I am being encouraged to try and to fail – and to let my students try and fail. I am being encouraged to reach out, to try new things, try different things. And, best of all, to not worry if it is not perfect. I have my own demons, thank you very much, that already demand an exceedingly high level of performance from me, so it is such a relief to know that I can extend my own creativity on the job, and be trusted as a professional still to deliver high quality instruction (correction: educational opportunity) to my students. 🙂