Three weeks ago a senior (see ‘seasoned’) teacher approached me about an idea: the creation of a social media and production program (an academy if you will) loosely based on the UK studio school model replete with project-based learning methodology operating within an existing timetable.
Before thinking over the consequences and the mountain of work that would lie ahead, I naively (perhaps) blindly said “I’m in!”.
In hindsight, there was a serious juxtaposition going on here:
There you have a teacher (a self-admitted technophyte) who really doesn’t use his email, not on Facebook, has no clue on how Twitter works (“I have nothing to share with anyone.”), and only recently purchased a cell phone the other week (he has asked me to help him to “break it in”), and yet he gets the need to interact and connect with students outside of the brick and mortar classroom. He understands the importance that social media plays in the lives of his students. He recognizes that they do not possess the skills or knowledge to properly navigate the Internet. He knows that we are preparing our students for jobs that do not even exist. He knows that filling up the empty vessel with knowledge is no longer the role of the teacher. And even though he’s personally not ‘there’ (and may never be), he’s prepared to get those of us who are involved.
Here’s a 35 year veteran returning to a new school after a two year leave of absence fighting a several ailment; a guy that is two years (at the most) away from full retirement; and he wants to start a program that in BC education is unique and enterprising…
And here I am saying an unequivocal “I’m in!”
What the hell have I gotten myself into…?
And yet, I can’t shake the idea of this program. At the same tie neither am I filled with a confidence about it succeeding. Nevertheless, I’m very, very intrigued. It’s like the train wreck that you see coming and yet I can’t look away. You know that you need to be a part of this because it is going to be big.
And so, the work begins…first and foremost we need to develop a mission statement, and at some point seek approval from administration (scheduling is going to be a key factor in all of this).
Our attempt to offer a studio school for our students will compete with other ‘electives’, probably raise the ire of a couple of colleagues, and leave many students wondering if this is something that they want to be a part of.
For us, it is a two prong offering: incoming Grade 9s will be in-calculated as with a program of media literacy through HCE 9 and English classes.
The thrust of the program will revolve around the graduation program and working to helps students obtain the necessary compulsory credit courses, plan with post-secondary schooling in mind, and become active participants in the new program.
The other angle is tying in our new eportfolio program so that students will have a venue to save, share, and eventually showcase their media projects.
Nobody said it would be easy; but who wants easy? We all decided that it’s the challenge (one worth working towards) that we want.
Deep breath…

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