I. Am. Done!!!! I just finished (with two presentations and a paper) the LAST of the classes I was required to take to complete my permanent Spanish Certification. (Can I get an Amen?!?) The realization actually hit me a couple of days ago, that despite the fact that I have precisely one week of consecutive unscheduled time this summer, I am elated, because this is the first summer in several years that I am only doing work that I WANT to do. What an incredible difference that makes! I have more projects in the works than I care to count, all my scheduled travel is work-related, but I am unbelievably excited to get started! I truly didn't realize what an incredible relief it was going to be to have my time be my own again.
Once I hopped down from Cloud 9, it occurred to me that this is probably the way many of our students feel throughout their time in school. Very little of their time is their own. Bells move them from room to room, from compartmentalized subject to compartmentalized subject -- totally contrary to how the "real world" works. They have very limited choice within schedules of requirements packed to the hilt. Within classes, too often the extent of their ability to make any kind of choice is limited to what font they use in a required Powerpoint presentation.
Part of the beauty of my planned work this summer is the development of a pilot program that will (hopefully) begin to change some of these formerly entrenched systems. The concept is a sort of "school-within-a school" that allows for natural connections between and across content areas. Exciting stuff! There are nine teachers from a variety of content specialties who will be collaborating on this pilot. The pilot will continue with three consecutive freshman classes, with data examined along the way. We have the luxury of having a summer and a school year to solidify the plans -- which is great, because there are fabulously strong personalities and undoubtedly many ideas will be bounced around before we find a landing place. But I feel that this passion will be contagious, and will allow our students much more freedom to explore their own passions than a more traditional system.
As with anything new and different, there are naysayers, and there will be bumps in the road. We may end up with data showing that the program is a failure. I don't think so, but we're prepared for that eventuality. Commitment and passion give this a better than average chance of success. Full administrative support doesn't hurt either. :) I will surely be posting updates here about our journey.
Does anyone have any similar programs going on in their schools?