Monday, August 31, 2015

Finding the Holy Metric

       If you read this blog with any regularity, you've seen numerous comments and even full posts about educational metrics. There are simply too many for me to provide links. I've railed against ones I abhor, extolled those that seem worthwhile, patched together comprehensive packages of various ones, and contemplated "new" ways to capture educational value. Sometimes it feels as if I've spent a large part of my professional life for the past fifteen years on the quest for the holy metric of education.
       Recently I may have found it, even grasped it for a moment. And it made me so proud of St. John''s Episcopal School. 
       Before I share it, I ask you to take a moment and reflect upon a pretty basic question. Basic...but one I'm not sure we talk about enough. What does great learning look like?
       On Friday, August 21, I experienced a first in my 33 years in education. As I took one of my walks around the school, I didn't see a single classroom in which students were simply sitting and listening. I saw them engaging in lively discussion, working in small groups, brainstorming on idea walls and researching on iPads. They were spread out among the room and even spilled into the hallways. I saw students creating in art classes, baking gingerbread men, reading in quiet corners, and playing in PE. Everywhere I went students were engaged in active learning. There were loads of smiles and shining eyes.
       Of course, I Tweeted about it, which led to these two responses from Grant Lichtman, who's probably visited as many independent and public schools as anyone the past few years:
My pride grew even more, and since then I've been gushing to folks about it and hoping I help them understand what a big deal this was. It may not indicate an individual student's progress in any particular area, but it highlights how we're creating the fertile environment for tremendous individual growth. The type that comes via great learning.
       I haven't had the same experience since. But now I know it can happen. The North Star has become more distinct and even brighter because we're drawing ever closer.

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