Our school is wrestling with some difficult things right now. Difficult in an emotional sense. We’re not willing to let go of the importance of relationships, connectedness, and FUN that’s part of the entire school year (and usually part of the final few weeks of school). But what does this look like during a school closure?
I love a good quote. I love hearing good answers during interviews too. I’ll often see or hear things pointing to the importance of establishing positive relationships in education. And you’ll never hear me arguing against the importance of either of these things. But what does this look like during remote learning?
When I wrote Renegade Leadership, I described what a student-centered, relationally-based pedagogy could look like. One of my favorite quotes from the book builds upon something Michael Fullan said, “If pedagogy is the driver and technology is the accelerator…relationships are the runway.” It seems like I’ve been revisiting this book more and more the past couple months, but I still stop and ask myself, What does that look like right now?
One of the things our team has been collaborating on in response to this question is the development of Virtual Academy options for students to choose from the final few days of school. Teachers submitted videos and course ideas including:
How to Make a Trick Shot (i.e. Just like “Dude Perfect” on YouTube)
Making Homemade Popsicles
Bass Fishing Tips
How to Make an Origami Monster Bookmark
Guess Who?! (Using Teacher Bitmojis)
How to Draw, Exercise Adventures, and many, many more!
We’ve got close to 50 high-interest topics for students to select from so far. And as fun as some of them sound, I can’t help but think the power in many of these Virtual Academy offerings is in the people creating them. I have a feeling many students will be drawn to their current and former teachers as much as the topics themselves!
There’s a relational foundation to this work that can serve as a runway to passion, new learning, and fun. It’s not that these things couldn’t happen on their own…it’s just that relationships tend to enrich, motivate, and propel things further than they would go on their own. But what does this look like in a pedagogical sense?
Another tool that’s helped me with remote leadership has been the Renegade CODE framework. This is a visual representation of some of the things we’ve tried to factor into experiences and communication during this time of school closures. At a 30,000 foot level it answers the question, "What does this look like?”
And it also makes it abundantly clear that relationships are foundational in this work we get to do. Even with the difficult parameters that we would not choose, like not being allowed to gather in large groups to celebrate the students we love so dearly, we can still find ways to show what our beliefs and values look like.