Can we do better?
I have worked in some really amazing schools. This fact gives me optimism in my students’ future and the future of the planet.
Alas, the school year is over. I have had the time to breath and reflect on how we as a learning community can do even better. The following is a personal body of thought upon making elementary schools not only brain-friendly but “human-friendly.”
- A focus on Project-Based Learning. Read about the benefits of project-based learning here
- Each student composes music. Read about the effects of music on the brain here.
- The Arts… every day. View an inspiring news report here
- Life skills are not expected, but taught. UNICEF defines life skills as “psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. They are loosely grouped into three broad categories of skills: cognitive skills for analyzing and using information, personal skills for developing personal agency and managing oneself, and inter-personal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others.”
- Neurology Training: Teachers have a basic understanding of how the brain works. One of my favorite brain books is here.
- Maker Culture: Students create, disassemble and reassemble their own technology. Check out Maker magazine here.
- Teach kids financial literacy. Read 10 Steps to Teaching Your Kids to Become Entrepreneurs here.
- Chess tournaments. Check out the effects of Chess on the child brain. Chess is the “anti-Ritalin.”
- Poetry Matters: Poetry is all over the school. Read about my poetry heroine here.
- Classes are smaller: Class size is 16 kids per class. From my experience, this is the ideal class size for teaching 21st century students.
- More planning time:Student workweek is 4.5-days. Teachers workweek is 5.5 days.
- Balanced curriculum decisions: Curriculum is developed by children, parents and staff
- Stress is confronted: The CDC report on the dangers of toxic stress on children here.
- A shift in professional development. I believe that teachers are to choose more of their own avenues for professional development.