Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Do I Know

The other day I facilitated a meeting between a family of a struggling learner and building-level administrators.  It has been a rocky start to the new school year.  The meeting was held to see what could be done to reverse the unfortunate start through intervening in a meaningful way.

I recommended to the all who were present that some alternative scheduling options be created.  This particular student struggles within the confines of a traditional high school.  We had to creatively look at our schedule and find avenues through which this student could pursue a personal passion or extend course work that sparks genuine interest.

In discussing possible options, I shared that in a couple of years the student will be graduating.  Like with all students, it is a personal belief that learners should have options when graduating from high school. Regardless of whether the preferred route is college or a professional career, graduates should have the capacity to be life-long learners and be able to find ways in which they can intellectually grow.  This was a point I attempted to stress through our discussion and served as a driving force behind the options were brainstormed at the meeting.

However, after the meeting, I started to think about the exchange.  Specifically, am I in a good position to discuss what life is like in the professional world and what skills students would need to excel in a professional environment?  I have spent my entire professional life in the classroom and on the basketball court.  I have never worked outside of a school/camp or without kids.  I read a range of texts, follow varied sources of information and exchange ideas through social networks, but in the end, my past experiences have been limited to a specific environment. 

What about an internship program for educators? We talk about internships, service learning projects  and capstone experiences for kids, but what about creating the same avenue for teachers.  For example, I am a 12th month employee.  Would my time be better served over the summer interning than coming to school.  Could I spend time in a news room to see how the role of the media is changing as a result of the internet?  Would my time better served spending two months with a community service organization or even with a more global organization?

I see value in establishing a process where any educator can leave the school environment for part of the year to experience "life" outside of the classroom. These out of school experiences can be shared with students and reflected upon to craft authentic and meaningful engagements.  I might be in a better position to craft interventions that result in positive outcomes that not only make an immediate impact but are manifested over time.