I'm in the unique position this year of visiting classrooms to see what's going on in these little boxes we call "our rooms." I must say, it's very different when it's someone else's little box rather than my own little box. I see wonderful things going on in isolation and I see potentially wonderful things going on, with no real way to share out with others. I see things going on that would be a great connector to something else in another grade level or even another subject area, but I also feel that my hands are tied because of the disconnected nature of schooling. We separate ourselves into neat little subjects, divided by grade levels that rotate on their own little axes. Not counting education, can you imagine if the real world worked this way? We'd all be working with people that were the same age as us, we'd all travel together to our little departments, our learning would be dictated by "the authority," and our self worth would depend on how well we were at taking tests.
We do not need to stay in our little boxes if our boxes are far removed from the world outside our gates. Breaking out of little boxes means looking beyond our departments, grade levels, bell schedules and making the systemic changes necessary to create a school where students are doing real work. We don't abandon writing, reading, math, history, language, music, art, science, PE, guidance, standards, assessment, differentiation.. . but we do create an environment where students are learning along with not under the teachers.
This is by no means a new idea or even a foreign idea. These things are happening in other schools, but we need to keep reminding ourselves that even if we are in these boxes, it's not hard to break out.
This video shows real schools that have taken that step. It's not a pipe dream. We can be the change.