In education we do not get to see the fruit of our labor until many years have gone past. But when it happens it always makes a profound impact. Today was just such a day. As many of you know I worked with the Alabama Best Practices Center for four years in Alabama with schools across the state on a 21st Century Learners project. We worked with schools on reconceptualizing their teaching, classrooms, schools and districts in ways that would meet the needs of the networked learner. We pushed hard for reculturing and a shift in curriculum toward project/problem based learning. I remember wondering (more than once) if anything I was saying, sharing, modeling, and teaching was getting through.
Then today I get this letter-
Yesterday, I attended a 21st Century Showcase at Winterboro in Talladega County. You will remember that they joined the project in the second year. I wish you had been there with me.
They have completely transformed the school. It is now geared around problem-based learning. They have added four learning suites to the school - which was built in 1930 - that enables interdisciplinary teaching. Each suite has computers on each desk, and desks can be reconfigured to meet whatever task is being done.
The students were amazing and they were ENGAGED. The teachers who had been at Winterboro before the transformation noted that before many students couldn’t look adults in the eye. When I approach the school, one student saw me, came outside to open the door for me, reached out his hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Welcome to our wonderful school!” Within one minute, five other students had made a point of coming up to greet me.