As a member of the press here at ASCD’s annual conference, I was lucky enough to sit and talk with Liliana Aquas and Matt McClure, the Outstanding Young Educators over lunch. It was an inspiring dialogue.
Liliana, who works at Leconte Elementary School in Berkeley, CA, did not start out wanting to be an educator. She was in school to be a scientist, but after visiting a school and teaching kids, she was asked by the principal to come back and teach 5th grade at the school.
In other words, Liliana is smart and highly educated. Just listening to her talk, you could hear her passion and enthusiasm for science and for watching her kids discover and uncover content. She was worried, at first, that she couldn’t be a successful teacher because she didn’t attend a teachers’ college, but the principal who hired her saw something in her and told her that she would be fine. And she was.
I, myself, did not attend a teachers’ college, and took education courses while working full time in the classroom. Over the course of my career I have met many educators who had similar paths. Which makes me reconsider the role of teachers’ colleges in the first place.
What was really refreshing for me was to hear her say that “Science is the ideal platform to teach everything.” This is something that I have been saying for years. I believe that schools can make Science the glue that ties all learning together.
Listening to Matt McClune, a Superintendent from Cross County Schools, AR was equally inspiring. He described the journey his district made toward what he calls “process based learning” from a more traditional model.
His district went from being an ‘at-risk’ district to slowly proving themselves toward more independence. He sat down with his teachers to talk about what kinds of skills they thought their students would need outside of the NCLB content. After the brainstorming, the group reflected on how they weren’t teaching these things in their classrooms.