Tracy ponders

Hi everyone.

Wow, where did the time go? You will be reassured to know that time in San Diego seems to get filled just as quickly as it does at home. It’s been an amazing three days with so much input to assimilate, thoughts will no doubt be unravelling for weeks to come.

For now though, a few reflections related to some of my specific areas of research.

Teacher as designer…what does this mean?

Teachers at HTH design both the content of the curriculum and the process of learning. Just as we do at SBL, learning is planned in creative and engaging ways, but the passion, talent and individual curiosity of each teacher is visible and almost tangible in every aspect of every single project that is designed and carried through at HTH. Teachers here capitalise upon the structure of coordinated autonomy that empowers them to be themselves in all aspects of their work with young people and with each other.

Teacher as…?

By the second day the mist was clearing and it became more and more obvious that the teachers at HTH also undertake the various roles that we do within the course of a working day, week, ‘semester’. Teachers here are not just designers of curriculum. They too are facilitators, mentors, advisors, artists, they are living personalities and learners. Everyone at High Tech High, whether they be a student, class teacher or Director, is first and foremost a lifelong learner.

The Learning Journey

It was extremely valuable to be able to compare notes with practitioners from HTH alongside those accounts given by our fellow professionals who comprised the whole British contingent. (This research trip was billed as the British Invasion, given that SBL were a subsection of a wider British research party of 15 professionals). It was interesting to hear how the team from Cramlington for example, on their 3rd visit to HTH, were reflecting upon what we were seeing and experiencing, in the light of their own innovative path finding.

Teachers at HTH talk openly and candidly about their failures as well as their successes. When we listened to accounts of their progress it was both comforting and heartwarming to hear accounts of projects that have gone wrong or of big ideas that didn’t quite turn out as expected. They talk about their feelings and they talk with feeling. They describe disappointment and sometimes anguish as they struggle, they describe sometimes being bewildered and frustrated and they described some pretty uncomfortable and unpleasant times, particularly in the early days of becoming established. What is most uplifting and motivating is that there is always a positive end result. This may come out of numerous attempts, fine tuning and undergoing a process of critique after critique. Failure is not something to be afraid of, or indeed avoided, it is part of the learning journey and necessary to ultimately reach success.

The journey home…

As we prepare for the flight home, I am just as full of excitement and anticipation and I was last Tuesday morning, perhaps more so. I am looking forward to being back at SBL, to being amongst colleagues again and to being able to share some of the methodology and passion that we have been exposed to. It has been a great privilege to be a part of this trip and there is no doubt in my mind that what has been shared with us this last three days will be invaluable to SBL as we embark upon the next phase in our incredibly exciting learning journey.

See you all on Tuesday

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