I believe that effective education is about people, always. We must reach people on personal levels to foster relevance in what they learn.
flickr photo via epSos.de
My former principal, Mark Jones, confirmed this belief for me during our first meeting two years ago. I had just started my first administrative appointment as a vice-principal at Mattie McCullough Elementary School, a thriving K-5 school with a technology focus. He told me my initial responsibility was to get to know the kids at our school and also their parents… sit back a bit and learn how things flowed in my new school. I took his advice and it proved to be the best advice I received during my first year as a school administrator, and very much aligned with my personal philosophy pertaining to engaging students.
In my previous placement as a middle school counselor before coming to Mattie, and as a teacher working with kids manifesting severe emotional and behavioral challenges before that, I learned the value of learning kids’ stories. I was eager to learn the stories of the people that represented the culture of my new school. I believe that every student has a personal learning story, and I think of that story as containing three main components: the student’s past; the student’s present and the student’s future. In a more specific context for me as the teacher, these components translate into the story I need to learn about (past), the story I need to help write (present) and the story with the happy ending (future). Our stories define us, and it's so important that schools are environments that encourage people to share them.