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September 26, 2014

2 min

Method Schools Team

Taking Risks and Being Untraditional

How does a teacher become untraditional in a system that has remained unchanged for the past sixty years?

The answer is not only taking risks, but people need to be fearless about the risks you take. Successful companies do this all of the time. The late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, was not afraid to take risks. Undoubtedly, he’s reshaped the brand with constant innovation at lightning speed. Google is constantly redesigning its image. They are growing, changing and doing it fearlessly. These are the innovators in the Tech world.

Traditional teachers are not allowed to take risks, and therefore have created an national educational environment of mediocrity. Teachers and students are, unfortunately, the product of a never-changing system. How do I know this? I’m a teacher. I’ve worked for school districts in a traditional school environment and charters. The difference between the two is staggering. One of the most significant distinctions is creativity. In a charter school, creativity flows like water. In a traditional school is dammed, stopping any flow. Anytime a teacher who attempts something new or innovative, they are typically faced with resistance from veteran teachers and leadership. They adhere to the zeitgeist Teachers feel powerless to enact change and over time, they don’t fight the system. Now, I’m not saying that all traditional schoolteachers are like this; there are many wonderful teachers that work for school districts. Two parents who were those teachers raised me. Unfortunately human beings can only put up a fight for so long. (My breaking point was two years)

I have spent more of my teaching career in a charter school. At Method Schools, risk taking is encouraged. The biggest risk I took was inspired by a quote from Clark Aldrich’s Unschooling Rules. “Animals are better than books about animals” When studying the modern immigration debate, I took my eighth grade students to the Mexican/American border. Border Patrol, who showed the students various ways in which undocumented people attempt to get into the United States, met us. I needed my students to understand just how close we are in San Diego to Mexico and to experience first hand what it looks like. They could have easily looked at on Google maps; they could have seen pictures or a documentary. I realized that the students in my classroom needed to be doing and not sitting by on the sidelines reading from a book about their education.

At Method Schools, teachers are at the core of the school. We are able to make school and curriculum decisions, and most importantly-- think differently. (Nod to Jobs’s amazing 1980’s slogan) Much like apple and Google, Method schools want to be innovators, designers, and game changers in education.

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