Friday afternoon I was talking with a colleague whom I greatly respect and like. My youngest was wandering around the classroom during our conversation. She's only five and I didn't think she was paying any attention to us.
However, at one point she ran over, quite excitedly, to say, "Mommy, mommy! That sounds like in the Mysterious Benedict Society, when they went to that place, where they had the crazy rules. Remember? Like 'You can go anywhere you want, as long as you stay on the paths.'"
My colleague and I looked at each other in great surprise. How astute. That is exactly how we are feeling. You can go anywhere you want, as long as you stay on the paths.
At a staff meeting earlier this year what is tight or loose about our PLC process was addressed. Tight? We must have two language arts team meetings and two math team meetings each month. Loose? We can have more team meetings if we want. You can go anywhere you want, as long as you stay on the paths.
Tight? We must have a common assessment in math and a common assessment in language arts each quarter. Loose? We can have more common assessments and in other subjects if we want. You can go anywhere you want, as long as you stay on the paths.
We are a Responsive Classroom school. We have an RC committee and we were reminded of our RC status a week ago regarding teachers taking recess away from kids for not doing homework or for behavior problems. Yet, as a school we have 'red zones' in our hallways where there is no talking and 'yellow zones' in the bathrooms and cafeteria where there is quiet talking and a red strobe light in the cafeteria for when it gets too loud. (Adults still talk in the halls.) You can go anywhere you want, as long as you stay on the paths.
Questions, concerns, any kind of pushback are met with, "You can go anywhere you want, as long as you stay on the paths." (Not in those words, of course. Only the five-year-old is that wise.)
I firmly believe in the RC model and the idea that teachers should not take recess away for homework or behavior problems. It is shortsighted and developmentally inappropriate. So is a strobe light in the cafeteria.
On a lighter note, if you haven't read The Mysterious Benedict Society you are missing out on a great series of books.