I’ve been teaching at Rogers New Tech for about five months now. In that time, I have learned that ninth graders can in fact do their own research and think their own thoughts. I’ve learned that they can, most of the time, be trusted to do their work, even when I am not hovering over them. I have learned to use my own judgement and to trust my own instincts because they are typically dead on. The most important thing I have learned is to value a Growth Mindset.

Mr. Morley, one of the most brilliant men that I have ever worked with, talks a lot about “failing up,” the idea that if you fail, just like Edison said, you have learned a new way not to do something. At our school, the emphasis is, or at least we facilitators are trying our hardest to place the value on the learning, not on the grade.

At New Tech, we are going against a lot of societal norms, especially in the school system, because we are saying NO to teaching to the test. We are saying that we value learning. We’re saying that there is a different way to learn for every child and it is our job as teachers to figure that way out. We’re saying that sometimes a kid is going to have to fall down to realize the value of working hard, and that they should be allowed to fall down as long as we are there to give them a hand up when they are ready to get back up again. That is the shift in thinking that America as a country must make before we will be able to “catch up” with our European and Asian competition in the education field.

Something that I miss is college; not college the way that I did it, but college where learning and experience took precedence over a grade. I miss learning about new things. I hate that I dropped my math major because I got a high B so I thought I wasn’t going to be successful in the other math classes. I hate that I didn’t take anthropology and philosophy classes because I would have loved them. I hate that I was so focused on that GPA, the one that no one has ever looked at, that I missed out on a chance to learn something new and become a better person.

I miss learning more than anything else. Luckily, that is something that I have control over. What do you miss?

P.S. Remember to go check out what Madi has to say on the topic and follow along with us in this December Writing Challenge!

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