Today's Teaching Tuesday blog is about the first day of school and our journey to today.
These last two weeks, while very busy, have been pleasantly reminiscent of my former life in technology where the week before going live with a system brought a flurry of activity and some late nights!
The parallels between starting a school and software development projects are astounding! That's why I strongly believe in what we're doing in our school - teaching kids how to solve problems. Whether the problems are engineering problems, math problems, community challenges or designing experiments, giving kids the challenge, but not the answer or the predetermined design and letting them work through it, find issues, find the fixes and continue to work through those challenges is what we believe will serve them best in life as they grow up. Whether it's the scientific method, the engineering design problem or the math's steps to solving a problem, it's all variations on the same theme.
When I think about what it was about my education that best prepared me for my career (or should I say careers?), it was the ability to take a problem that has no clear answer, structure a solution, and work through the solution, while dedicating time to communicating with the people who are impacted by the work that I am doing.
If we think of the school year as being for the kids, the week before school starts is the time for the teachers. Spending time this week with the teachers as they get ready for their classes, one thing is crystal clear - their thoughts are about the kids. Building this team of professionals has been very similar to how I have built teams in the past: hire a team of diverse individuals that are passionate and compassionate.
I define diversity as diversity in thought and thought process. In hiring a team, you need the big-picture, top-down, and data-driven thinkers. You need creative, right-brained people and sequential, left-brained people. We looked for introverts, as well as extroverts.
In forming our team, we also looked for a variety of professional backgrounds. This is one of the things I'm most proud of about our team, as each person will bring a unique perspective that has been shaped by his or her professional background.
The one common attribute: Every single person has decided to dedicate their lives to educating children. Our goal in purposely recruiting professionals with such a wide variety of professional backgrounds is that we can all learn from each other's strengths and support each other's weaknesses. We will bring different points of view to the table which I hope will lead to lively discussions!
Passion and compassion are absolute must haves for teachers. We look for teachers who are passionate about their subject matter. It's why they chose to study that field in college. We look for teachers who want to share that passion with the kids in their class, while showing compassion for those children by attending to their needs - noticing when they need to be challenged, encouraged or supported. Together it is what great teachers do!
Ron Clark's book, The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children informed us about other qualities to look for, but the three key ones were diversity in thought and thought process, passion and compassion.
Like musicians with various talents, life experiences and tastes, both teachers and children are about to come together to make, to create, and to learn together. We hope to inspire, reach and support each other this year to do things we never thought we could do. I am excited about our teaching team and confident that we have assembled a symphony. Let the music begin!
Juliana Heitz is co-founder of Ideaventions Academy and is very excited to share the thinking behind the Academy.
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