guest written by Tracy Schutz
As probably many veteran educators do, I dream of the perfect school — the precise balance between properly aligned curriculum to meet the needs of every child, parents who are supportive and involved, and a faculty properly resourced and always eager to challenge and ask “what if…?”
So, what does The Utopian School (herein called U.S.) look like? I’ve arranged these rose-colored visions into the ABC’s of course. Naturally — how else would a teacher organize her thoughts?
Academics, Books, Curriculum — Oh my:
Ah, the thoughts of old social studies books come to mind. “Why do these books only show 13 stars on the flag, Ms. Teacher?” Ok, I’m exaggerating, I know! Our new U.S. will have all it desires to meet the needs of all students. Our academics are structured around students’ interests with ties to real life and are not cookie-cutter in design. (Think: online memberships for virtual fieldtrips, science experiments, nature walks, reading and writing cafés…) Textbooks will be available in multiple formats (online, audio, large print, etc.) and will also help students understand the value of the subject — not simply regurgitated information. Students in today’s society need a clear understanding of why their learning is important and how this will help them be successful in life. Students cannot compete as adults with explanations such as “because it’s in the curriculum.” Children are inquisitive by nature and need to know why.
Discipline, Families, Guidance — Yes, please:
The U.S. will discipline students swiftly, fairly, and without regard to academic standing, parent complaints, or special needs (not related to behavior). Discipline will also follow a strict matrix of increasing consequences so that students understand that their actions are not acceptable and it will not be tolerated. We all know that, as great as our administration may be, there are certain students who are catered to… (Think: the squeaky wheel gets the grease). Next up, parents will be REQUIRED to be involved in their child’s education. Consequences and fines shall be in place for those who repeatedly bring their students to school tardy, promote truancy, and those who generally skip out on any school-to-parent contacts. In addition, this U.S. will have guidance counselors who will, in fact, provide guidance. I don’t mean the occasional personal hygiene story, but true lessons about respect, the importance of an education, and proper school conduct.
Money, Omniscience, Politics — Take away the “ugh” factor:
The U.S. will have the foresight to see where the budget can flex and advocate dollars where necessary. Teacher supplies will flow from the district office like rain on a spring day. Politics will not be an issue since everyone is FOR the greater good of students’ and teachers’ needs. Those involved with the school board will have distinguished knowledge and a genuine interest in education and how the community can be further engaged — and not an interest in how to skim a buck or two at the cost of our students’ futures or how to further their campaign.
Resources, Special education, Technology — Absolutely:
The U.S. will provide ample resources for parents, teachers, and students. Professional Development will be designed around teachers and administration working together to decide what is best for the school. Afterwards, there will be workshops and communication with parents about these new school trainings and initiatives. Special education students will be given access to support for continued success outside of school (Think: external academic support, coping strategies, behavior assessment and management tools, etc.) All students and teachers will have access to current technology, including student laptops, Smart Boards, smart phone app’s (Think: BYOD—“Bring Your Own Device” ), and other electronic devices that help engage students in the 21st century.
UDL, Virtual, Worldly — Yes, and this too:
The U.S. focuses on the individual student, yet with a global approach. Education at U.S. follows a Universal Design for Learning model (Think: one size does NOT fit all) and offers scaffolding and multiple levels of engagement along with online courses to better reach all learning styles. There is a worldly feel at U.S. to help students understand life on a global level and to help students grow up appreciating and understanding what living in America means.
Zeal — Can’t leave this out:
With all The Utopian School has to offer, of course all of our students, parents, and school staff have a passion and drive to challenge and say “What’s next?” The U.S. recognizes the need to strive for perfection in education to help our students become competing members in the world economy. Finally, U.S. educators know that mediocrity in American schools is not the answer and to consistently raise the bar in academics for our future’s sake.
About the author: Tracy Schutz is a veteran middle school educator currently transitioning from brick and mortar to online education and Social Media Management. She is passionate about at-risk and online students, ed technology, and Social Media. Chat with her here: http://dedication2education.com, Twitter, Facebook, or on LinkedIn.