I'm at Educon.
If you're not familiar with Educon, it's a conference/conversation hosted by Chris Lehmann and the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA.
I was fortunate to be able to spend Thursday and Friday hanging around the school. Here's what I saw:
- Lots of smiles.
- Loud classrooms
- A principal's office that looked more like grand central with equal numbers of staff and students talking and working, coming and going
- Teachers who discussed personal issues with students
- A brief power outage that didn't paralyze learning despite them being a 1:1 school
- A lack of emphasis on technology
- Kids occasionally off task
- Students excited to talk with adults
None of these things are particularly amazing and are all things you could find in many, if not all schools in North America. I didn't see one thing that couldn't be done anywhere. The teachers are good teachers but they aren't doing anything I haven't seen before. There isn't a magic formula to their success. So what's the big deal?
There are many more observations and insights that one would make beyond the few I've listed but I'm not sure that any additions would tell us that "one thing". It's obvious that leadership plays a significant role and that grows culture over time which is undeniably palpable. While many will continue to deconstruct and analyze how, and if this type of place ought to be replicable, I'm awed at good teaching and caring adults can lead to a really wonderful place which it truly is. But maybe SLA isn't so unique after all? Maybe there are more schools and classrooms like this but we just are telling anyone? I do know of a few wonderful places and classrooms that I work with, perhaps not in a collective sense but still pretty wonderful.
I didn't see any one thing that blew me away at SLA . They just seem to embody the things we think schools should be.
cc licensed flickr photo shared by shareski