Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Originally Published on July 22, 2012

This weekend marks the end of summer for me, the start of vacation, and the mad race to the start of the school year.  This past year has been amazing, challenging, tiring, exhilarating, exhausting, invigorating, and fun.  We have spent countless hours as a team building the School of Inquiry from an idea, to a bunch of google documents and computer models, to a list of students and parents, to four rooms and later this year an actual building within a building.  It has been a time of growth, a time of wonder, and a time of intense preparation.  

This morning I had one of those rare great mornings when everything goes as I would want it to.  I went for a run, got home, grabbed my daughters and walked to Sarbuck's where we got muffins, hot chocolate (them), and coffee (me).  Sat in a chair and read from my RSS feed, and spent time thinking about what I was reading.  It was a great way to start my vacation, but it also lead to reflection more on the past year.  Which brings me to this question, from a blog post by Shawn Blankenship over at the Connected Principals Blog-So What? 

Shawn was speaking about going beyond checking off boxes on new teacher evaluation forms, and it got me thinking about the changes we will be making as we implement PBL at the School of Inquiry.  We have striven to create a unique culture for the school, have changed titles and job descriptions, have reconfigured classroom environment, created flex spaces to try and orchestrate accidental meetings fro students to collaborate in, spoken of trust cards, and creating a new school culture for students and staff.  So What?

So What?  We now need to go beyond the planning, beyond implementation even, and look closely at what we are doing.  We need to answer the question of "So What?"

We are attempting to create a culture of trust, respect, and responsibility.  So What, show me how teachers have given students more trust.  Tell me about ways students have shown they trust their teachers.  

We are calling our teachers facilitators and our principal a director.  So What, show me how these new job descriptions are being lived, not just merely being titles.  Speak to me of how education is being driven from those in the seats, not those in the front of the class or in the office.

We are creating a new environment for learning with flashy technology displays, new seatig arrangements, and spaces designed for collaboration.  So What, show me how students are suing technology beyond taking notes and writing papers, show me how they are connecting to the broader world and creating their own SLN (student learning network).  Show me how they are pursuing their passions within the framework of their course work.  Show me how they are engaged in what they are learning through what they are sharing with others.

This list could go on, as I get more fired up with the idea.  I believe we have created a staff that will accomplish what we want to do, and have been saying we will do.  

When he penned the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson stated in the first paragraph, "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."  While I am not going to declare our independence from traditional schooling, although I like that idea for a later post, I do believe as Jefferson did that we need to have our "experiment" viewed by those from outside our staff.   So students, parents, investors, school board members, other teachers and administrators, community members, and the world at large, come visit us.  See what we are doing, look at what we hope to accomplish.  Ask us "So What", and hold us to show you what we are doing.  Let the adventure begin, and join us as we take this journey into the School of Inquiry.

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