I am starting a new category on Human. Big Picture. A great model of education.
Motto of Big Picture: “one student at a time in a community of learners.” In a nutshell: students select an area of passion and interest and they ‘go deep’ over a term, looking at the interest from different perspectives and through it develop things like literacy, numeracy, scientific reasoning, social skills etc. Advisory teacher helps them develop, refine and implement the plan, together with parents and people in the community and beyond, connecting people, ideas and places. At the end of term, the students publicly presents what they have learned in a format of their choice.
Well, I am now one such Advisory Teacher to 12 14-year olds (Year 10, roughly) in an area that some people might call it ‘a nice place’, others would tell you it’s pretty much ‘one of the rough ends of town’ (usual suspects: poverty, violence, drugs … you know). Here, I don’t teach ‘subjects’ (but I do have strengths; digital technology, humanities, critical thinking, sport etc.), I teach kids. Or better – I try to make them think.
Because this is the launch of Big Picture programme at our school, we are spending the first week with parent/student/teacher interviews before the term actually starts. Now there’s a difference (one of many!), and arguably a luxury (?) from a ‘regular’, mainstream school where those meetings usually happen at the end of term over a bunch of grades.
In meetings, we go through the Big Picture approach, some basic expectations and kick off the planning process that will be refined throughout the term. We speak, but we primarily listen.We repeat the meetings towards the end or whenever required throughout the term.
I have met the first few students and their parents this morning and we’re off planning. I have my/our room to work on a bit (empty canvass at the moment) before we re-design it again with my group to suit us, I have started setting up our Moodle and conducting the first staff session this Friday, learning a lot about the kids and their background, new staff …
Finally, I love the physical setup of this place. You can see it from the pics above. Staff room, admin and common-use areas at the front, massive open area in the middle (all covered) with a range of workstations, then a cluster of smallish rooms at the back, all with desktops and IWBs.
Yeah, rosy glasses on for now but I feeI we are going to have our work cut out here in a good, good way. It’s a great, inviting place to give a damn.