pix 0607 055Most mornings I start the day by running through my email, play a few rounds of LetterPress, casually browsing Twitter and catching up on my RSS reader.  I will not read ‘everything’, but rather take a wander through content and ideas shared since I went to sleep.  Some mornings, the posts and writing that are shared seem to be moving in a direction.  Such was this morning.

First I came across the most recent post from Sam Chaltain asking us to tell a different story about public education.  At the end of the post he asks, “Everyone knows what it feels like to go to school.  What if everyone knew what it felt like to go to a great school?”  He posits that we are having the wrong conversation about public school and that we need to be cognizant of the damage done by buying into the idea that our public school system is all about ‘content, conflict and catastrophe”.  We need to share widely stories that move past this layer of negative storytelling and offer a better narrative of learning.  He is highlighting the A Year at Mission Hill project, that endeavors to do just that.

Next, I was thrilled to see that Karl Fisch had posted the Arapahoe High School faculty dance performance for 2013.  I’m not sure how many years Karl has been posting these, but its been for several years.  (I am reminded of Chris Lehmann‘s post, Take the Work Seriously, But Don’t Take Yourself Seriously as I watched this.)

To say that I love that this occurs annually, would be an understatement.  You can absolutely sense the energy and enthusiasm by both the staff and student body.  In this moment, the students stand to encourage the work of their teachers.  Pulling this off is no small feat.  This took some time and dedication by the staff to contribute to the school community in a very ‘non-academic’ way.  And it is spectacular. Teachers were willing to publically perform when they weren’t perfect or gifted, and it was celebrated.  What a moment of modeling risk-taking, joyfulness and performance.

When I coached middle school basketball (girls and boys, for years), I recognized that the hours I spent with the students after school made the classroom flow so much easier.  Understanding that the work of the classroom is derivative of the culture of the whole learning environment … is so important.  As the adults in those spaces, we can play and laugh and be silly while also expecting much out of the students academically.  These are not mutually exclusive.

Thanks for Karl and Sam for bringing a few moments together this morning to evidence the importance of telling positive stories of education and joy in our learning environments.

What is your story?  What are the positive moments of learning and school that you see happening?