Yesterday at Forest Green School/Connections for Learning, our staff and several parents took part in our annual Education Planning process. Based on our three-year Education Plan, we take the opportunity as a whole to take a look at our plan for our school, and discuss what is going well, what can be improved, and what do we need to do in the future. Also very importantly, we talk about what we need to take off of our plate as well. Some of the best advice that I have ever received is that if we are going to add something to the workload of our school, we need to be prepared to also let something go. There are only so many minutes in the day and we need to do things well.
As we discussed the process of the day, I talked about the ideas that were shared by our students. We ask our students the same questions as our group and their answers are highly valued. As I referenced some of their ideas, I also talked about how they sometimes ask for things that we just aren’t able to do such as “all day recess” and adding a swimming pool inside of the school. On an impromptu note, I encouraged the group to share their “swimming pool ideas” with each other and not hold back. Things that they may find unrealistic might actually just be possible.
Listening to the conversation that went on after was absolutely amazing. Watching staff not hold back and come up with ideas such as parents leading all day workshops based on their passions with our students, staff going out to different parts of the community and sharing student learning with parents where they live, and having a Student-Led Unconference in our school were just some of the great things that I heard.
Are these ideas possible? Absolutely.
Will they need some hard work? Definitely.
Will they be powerful? Yes.
I learned yesterday that although I do my best to get feedback from staff, I need to create more opportunities for them to really dream big. By encouraging them to shoot for the stars, I saw their imagination and creativity take over, creating ideas that are actually very possible. I felt a certain “release” in the room that was extremely powerful and reading through their ideas today, I was amazed by their thoughts.
As kids, we were always encouraged to dream. Somewhere along the line into adulthood, the idea that we always need to be “realistic” and “sensible” seemingly overrides this thought. We need to learn from our kids and not only dream big but encourage others to do so as well.
You never know…one day we might be able to get that swimming pool.