August 1st, 2013

First Chance to Make a Learning Impression

So, the “Welcome to School” packet came last week. It was about 25 pages of papers, mostly forms and permissions and information about orientations and homerooms. The opening letter was one of welcome and expectations. You know the drill.

Just for fun, I set out to see how long it would take to find the word “learning” somewhere in the mix. Nothing on the first page, or the second, or the third…by the time I finally found the first instance I had stopped counting. It was a buried line in a letter from the principal explaining that due to NCLB, every teacher has to be “highly qualified” and that “every teacher continues life-long learning through professional development activities.”

Interestingly, I really hit the “learning” jackpot on the information page for the BYOD program, citing the effects of having a “personal learning device is school” as “greater productivity and satisfaction and access to information.”

That page was at the end of the packet.

My point? When the first thing you read (halfway down the opening page) from your chid’s new school is that they expect that “compliance [to the dress code] should begin on orientation day,” and the first thing you do is sign ten “consent” or waiver forms, you can’t help but get the message: Play by the rules and we’ll provide you with an education. Do not color outside the lines. Do not pass “Go” until you are told to do so.


What if that “Welcome to School” packet took a bit of a different path. What if that first communication home articulated a clear vision of what teaching and learning looked like in classrooms, supported by teachers and students telling stories of the authentic, real world work they were accomplishing on a regular basis? What if the quality of that work was at a level that instilled real excitement? What if parents were given a web address to see the work, to hear the teachers and students in their own words? Heck, what if there were an app for that? I mean I’m sure that work exists.

Why is it that rules and regs come before learning and making and creating in schools? 

Final wondering: I wonder how many other parents who got that packet were absolutely fine with the contents. 

Your thoughts?

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Welcome! I'm Will Richardson, parent, educator, speaker, author, 12-year blogger at Weblogg-ed and now here. I'm trying to answer the question "What happens to schools and classrooms and learning in a 2.0 world?" Best selling new book: Why School?s...order now!!

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