Earlier this week I retweeted Principal Carolyn Cameron’s Twitter post about a short video, “10 Expectations.” The video, produced by the organization Leaving to Learn, captures much of what makes learning “stick” at progressive schools such as Green Acres. At its essence, this video conveys a very important message for all educators: young people have an extraordinary capacity to learn, but in order for this to happen best, schools must be nimble, human-scale places where students’ interests and abilities can be applied to challenging, real-world problems. A one-size-fits-all model, which doesn’t account for students’ individuality, and which forces all students to learn precisely the same content at the same pace, won’t ultimately meet their individual needs. This standardized approach doesn’t reflect how adults best learn in the workplace, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this isn’t how students learn best in school.
I was struck by the student voice that narrates the 10 expectations in the video. Hearing how students want to be educated from a young person is a subtle but powerful reminder of how important it is to gather and accept feedback from students about when they are most ready to learn a concept (timing), what they are most interested in learning (relevance), and how they can best apply their learning outside of school (authenticity). Timing, relevance, and authenticity represent just 3 of the 10 expectations students should have for schools, so check out the 3 minute video to see all 10! At Green Acres, we take all ten expectations seriously; of course meeting all 10 on every project, on every lesson, every day is a tall order.
The end of the school year is a natural time for reflection. It is when we look back on the year’s successes and on those areas where we would like to improve for the next school year. I hope all educators watch this video to hear and see what students may be trying to tell us, but typically can’t express on their own. Unlocking what children can and should expect from school is basic but critical to the work that we do every day.