To reimagine and redesign education so that every student has access to authentic real world rigorous connections to content. Simply put, to change and make change in education. This is my “why” in my work in education. As I grew up in small town rural USA watching high quality instruction in a diverse school, never would I think education would allow me the opportunity to impact lives across the globe.
I got into education to impact the learners in my classroom. “Make as big of an impact as you can” always motivated me in my path. Make an even bigger impact, by impacting mindsets of teachers and leaders who impact learners in classrooms, create a butterfly effect.
Here on campus in the past week we have been honored to host a school from Ethiopia and travel to Peru to provide training for 50 teachers, instructional coaches and leaders. Seeing over 1500 visitors a year on campus at New Technology High School in Napa, it was an amazing opportunity to further connect with others globally sharing and training on our school vision:
“To create a relevant environment that is real-world, connected, meaningful, engaging, global, interdisciplinary and project-based. To develop rigorous learning that is challenging, comprehensive standards and skill-based, open-ended, creative and develops thinkers. To build relationships that are collaborative, compassionate, sensitive, culturally inclusive, personal, respectful, trusting, and develop self-management and emotional intelligence.”
Landing at 1:00am, navigating the transportation system and arriving at the hotel at 2:00am in the morning couldn’t slow us down! The training 6 hours later was in Lima and included schools from across Peru, from urban inner city to the Amazon. We started at our core with the Ideal Graduate profile. Once again, every teacher in the world wants a student who is a critical thinker, compassionate, empathetic, problem solver, environmentally mindful etc etc. Every teacher in the world wants to develop and engage students to cause them to grow both academically and solve problems that matter in the world.
Compassion, empathy and the desire to improve education for our learners transcended any language barrier that existed. Working with each educator (with a translator) it was great to see them dive deep into authentic real world problems all while connecting them with their required content.
Then in two different rounds of feedback, their ideas improved and their outcomes became clearer to themselves and what they will present to their students. All of this done while modeling the process of a Project and also modeling the power of culture and feedback to help learners take the next step in their learning.
It was a non-stop two days of training and then off to the airport (after more ceviche of course!) to catch the red-eye home and back to work! The two days was more validation of the importance of the work that we engage in. Doing projects just to do a project is just creating a checkbox system. The conversation isn’t and shouldn’t based around “how many projects do I have to do?”. The conversation should be in how can we engage our students in academically rigorous projects that are centered in real world problems that matter. Then, making sure that we sustain the work across the years, which we have proudly done for over 21 years.
The educators in Peru were similar to the teachers we engage with here in the states. We are all bound together with the desire to improve education, engage in authentic problems that matter while creating academic growth for our students. Although language might have seemed to be a barrier, our desire and drive to work toward improving the education system and develop a better understanding of PBL brought us together. The butterfly effect. Impacting not only teachers here in the United States, but teachers and students across the globe. Thank you Peru for an amazing two days!
To learn more about how we can help your school or system, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.