I became a teacher by accident. While visiting the Dominican Republic, way back when, I was asked to teach a 7th – 9th grade Language Arts class. I didn’t have a teaching degree and I had absolutely no experience, but that didn’t matter – I spoke English and I liked to read, so I figured it should be fine. Naively, I dove in, thinking it would be fairly easy.
I was, in one word, wrong.
After the first few terrifying months, I discovered Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle. Her book was a revelation and I instantly decided I’d give her reading/writing workshop a shot. After all, what did I have to lose? And so I began my experiment in teaching.
Since then, my teaching career has felt like an ever-changing, ongoing experiment: I read about an educational theory, develop a hypothesis, collect materials, run the experiment, draw conclusions, and then try again.
Slowly, slowly I improved my craft. I gave up control, stepped away from center stage, and put the learning in the hands of my students. The experiment continues and every day I learn something new.
Fifteen years ago, a couple of friends and I decided to open our own school. We rented a small house, bought some furniture, books, and computers, and opened the doors of The Community for Learning with 11 students spread throughout grades 1 – 3 and a group of parents who were brave enough to join us. Today we have about 430 students and 6 classes have come, graduated, and gone.
We’ve been very lucky to find a wonderful group of teachers who are also experimenters and who have passionately given their all to this project. Each year we decide on a new goal and we go for it. This year the secondary school has decided to begin Project Based Learning, using all the tools that technology has to offer and making our projects cross-curricular.
I want to use this blog to document our journey – our, research, our learning, our plans, our successes and our failures. I’m very excited to see what happens.