Fast Company--April : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Fast Company, April 2000, pp. 304-320

Schools That Think

By Sara Terry

Quality education for the youth of our country is essential, but many do not agree that the current system of public education is effective. Today all across America, new learning is being explored in experimental programs. Four program models are examined in this article, which offer different approaches but encourage creativity, individuality, responsibility and performance in its students.

The Responsive Classroom model seeks to integrate lessons on civility, humanity, and diversity into everyday education. The Service School model seeks to bring the customer focus and sense of a top-notch service organization or consulting firm to public education. The Expedition School applies Outward Bounds principles of expeditionary learningreal life experiences, challenging personal goals, and individual supportto the field of education. The Transformed School seeks to reenergize public education through the application of high standards and nontraditional teaching techniques, and the supportive training and development of teachers.

I was very excited to read about these motivational programs. I believe that children in our schools are living differently than they did years ago; family structures have changed, the mass media is a large part of everyday life, and the pace of life seems faster. Therefore, the way kids learn and view the world may not fit with the traditional ways that most schools and classrooms are run.

I have had the opportunity to take Responsive Classroom training. I used the techniques in my classroom this year. I have had a noticeably different kind of atmosphere in my classroom. My students are more respectful of others and really work together as a team. It has made my teaching time more effective because I am not spending as much time re-directing students; they help remind each other to stay on task.

I have found one of the components of the Responsive Classroom to be very effective. The Morning Meeting is how we start our day. We meet in a circle and greet each other by name. We then do a team-building activity such as a ball toss game. Next there is an opportunity for sharing. Kids are allowed to share one news item such as what they did over the weekend. They ask the other students if there are questions or comments, and choose three students who would like to offer one. Finally, the morning meeting concludes as we discuss the chart, which has pertinent information such as activities scheduled for the day or a review of skills that we learned the previous day. If there is any kind of conflict situation that students have been trying to deal with, such as a bully on the playground, this part of the morning meeting also allows us to explore the topic and come up with ideas of how to deal with the situation. The morning meeting is such a nice way to set the tone for the day, as well as encourage working together and respecting what others have to say.

-- Anonymous, April 23, 2000

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