We had our end of the year meetings in both sites over the last 10 days, Nebraska and California. As Monique, Nancy and I discussed the energy and immense productivity we saw in the meeting we started recognizing how uniquely creative and collaborative our teachers are. Our approach focuses on key ideas while letting teachers create their units and variations. The idea is that fidelity is to core ideas and not a prescribed lesson. Our principles are about process, thinking and integration. Our teachers have become amazing at using this platform to be creative. Even though grades have created units together the products were often different in meaningful ways. For example all second grades created a stamp as one assignment- but those were not uniform in the classes- showing that kids are creative, not between classroom showing that teachers are creative. More than that they UNDERSTAND what are the key ideas and where they can be creative and create variations that reflect their classrooms, individuality and skill/ comfort level.
As a researcher this has cost me much- and they are constantly aware of the research asking " we don't want to screw up the data". But the results are exactly what we wanted- implementation that is powered by teachers, sustainable, meaningful. For a second there I thought - if I had to retire right now, I would have retired happy.
If we want a creative generation we need to let teachers be creative! For that to happen professional development must provide the space for teacher creativity to emerge.