We, the teachers, were actually given homework! Before today’s staff meeting we were to read the brochure for the Common Ground Collaborative (CGS) and watch the eight short videos from the International School of Brussels (ISB) on the CGC. Additionally, we were to take a short survey regarding our frustrations with curriculum and take a look at the ISB Facebook page to get a feel for the culture of the school. I took my homework assignment seriously and completed all the tasks with diligence. I was left with a series of questions and dutifully wrote them down. Isn’t that what I expect of my students? I hope they’ll come to me for clarification. I figured I could get answers to my questions from the guest who would be directing our workshop and who happens to be one of the creators of CGS himself. If we’re considering adopting CGC at our school, it seemed to me that we should be able to resolve concerns we might have regarding making what appears to be a major change. That sounds reasonable, right?
So, I listened to the presentation. The guest was amiable and appeared to have an unpretentious thoughtful manner coupled with a sense of humor. I enjoyed the event more than I anticipated. However, all the information was very superficial and my questions were burning within. Finally there was an opening and I launched into what slowly became an interrogation. I was consumed by my hunger for dialogue regarding standards based assessment, formative assessment, rubrics, teacher support, teacher training, the organization of sharing and the method of collaboration. I couldn’t stop raising my hand with more questioning. Finally he said, “Your questions are hard” and then to our director, “Who is this?” And ultimately, “You can’t ask any more questions”. And he was serious! I attempted a couple more times and each time he said I wasn’t allowed any more time. There was humor in his approach but I have to admit, I felt a bit brushed off. I wanted answers and here was the topmost source! How could I let the opportunity pass by? He did spend some time with me at the end of the workshop and I was able to obtain more answers and understanding.
In the end, I think I’m “on board” to give this program a chance. I like the idea of global collaboration. Furthermore, I see a need for consistency in language and curriculum approach in the international schools. Quality control in the sharing process is an imperative that the CGC strives to adhere to. The ultimate objective of an organized bank of high quality ideas is, indeed, appealing. It is comforting to envision holding on to all of our good ideas and units and plans but having a resource to refer to in order to fill in gaps. Additionally, ISB and the CGC are both based on standard based grading which is a direction I hope our school will head.
On a final note, however, I hope that I never stop a student’s questioning. It is inquiry and the desire to know more that drives good dialogue and discussion, ultimately leading to learning.