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As this school year gets underway, I have had the pleasure of working more closely with a few classrooms. This has meant everything from meeting about supporting students, to discussing potential field trips, to helping plan lessons. Though these are not my “typical” responsibilities as head of school, they are things I thoroughly enjoy. Getting closer to student learning is always interesting and energizing.

When many of us were in school, each teacher was in charge of his or her classroom. Teachers followed the textbooks given to them from the school and were responsible for making sure all of the topics within each subject were adequately “covered.” Coverage. We may think of that when painting a wall or protecting a passer in football. Does it belong in school? Is the goal coverage? Or is it something much more?

Schools have so much potential. They are incubators of thought, challenging ideas and pushing the people within them to wonder and question, to dig more deeply into the ideas presented. It is a time in a child’s life when there is time. Unfortunately adults can be more concerned with student performance than progress. They want the children in their family or class to excel, forgetting that the very definition of excellence stratifies learners and they fall at every step along the continuum of learning. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean they stay where they are at any given moment in time. Learning is fluid. Children are able to accept the fluidity of learning if they know they are being challenged, having their needs addressed and pushing ahead as they move further and further along that continuum.

We need to remember that children are just that – children. They are each entitled to childhood. Compressing all of the learning to earlier ages makes everyone feel anxious and wonder why they can’t _____(fill in the blank)… Well, the good news is they can. They can learn. They can question. They can seek answers and experiment and wonder. Our job as educators is to be alongside them, moving obstacles out of their way and introducing them to ideas they had never imagined or thought they could never understand. When this happens, schools produce much more energy than they contain.