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Building a Program from the Ground Up

The summer program planning for 2012 has begun in earnest, and I’ve begun consulting with as many smart people as possible in creating a program that is engaging and worthwhile for students and professionally invigorating for teachers.  Additionally, we’ve decided to create a “teaching school,” (I know-sounds redundant) which is a lot like a “teaching hospital.”  The plan is to partner with local universities and allow teacher candidates to act as “residents” in the program.  They will accumulate observation hours not by sitting in the back of the classroom trying to stay awake, but by actively engaging in the curriculum, working with students, and debriefing with teachers at the end of each day.  Additionally, the plan involves a once-a-week seminar for the teacher candidates to sit with the master teachers to discuss philosophical issues in pedagogy anchored in the real experience of the classroom.

For teachers, the plan is to create a series of courses co-taught by two distinct subject teachers and built around issues, rather than specific subject-based content.  Teachers could design courses around problems that they attempt to solve or multi-disciplinary studies into specific issues.  My sense is that the best curriculum will be one built on the passion of the teachers, who can determine content for themselves.

So far, the summer institute is built on the idea of constructivism and progressivism, with a focus on enrichment based upon student interest.  It will be an institute free of standardized testing or state standards and can provide for students a place to explore their own interests.  Additionally, it will hopefully be a place where teacher candidates can meld the philosophy they read about in class with the reality of the classroom in a guided fashion that isn’t the “sink or swim” that can be student teaching.

The final step involves incorporating technology in a meaningful manner and finding ways that technology can be used to enhance the teaching and learning within the course.  As this entire program is very much in the planning stage, that has yet to be fully determined.

We’re still looking for insightful, innovative teachers who are interested in contributing to the conceptual design of this program, so feel free to either leave a comment or contact me via twitter if this is something in which you’d like to get involved.  Its an incredibly exciting time…

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