I've been privileged to have had an extremely rich and diverse education. I attended a panoply of public, private, and religious schools in several countries (India, Iran, the US), and then some of our most vibrant public and private institutions of higher learning (University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Harvard--with summer stints at Middlebury College and Columbia). But I learned the most about learning through teaching.
I've been teaching in LAUSD for over 11 years at Grand View Blvd. Elementary, a Title 1 school in Mar Vista. I've taught grades 1-5 and looped with three different cohorts for three years apiece. In those years I've discovered the obvious: that students succeed in cultures built together by teachers, school staff, families, and community organizations. It makes a difference when kids know the adults in their lives are all on the same page to support them. This is the core understanding I brought into designing a middle school.
In my years at Grand View, I always worked hard to bring a wide variety of technology into the creative educational lives of my students for two reasons: 1) they loved it; and 2) it's the present and future. Technology was never the ends but rather the means: it both supported students in their exploration of fundamental knowledge, and it became one of many ways in which their creativity could express itself. We used technology rigorously and playfully (and sometimes both simultaneously).
As I delved into new, experimental technology for my classroom, I began to establish relationships with companies and nonprofits that created technology. This gave my students the chance to pilot new things and participate in the design process. They sat in on conference calls with Sr. VPs of Content Development and UI/UX designers in charge of prototyping characters, settings, and interfaces. They expressed their opinion, and their opinions were heard. I'll never forget the day when one of my 5th graders turned to me and said, "Wait--. Grown ups actually changed what they were doing because of what we told them?"
Through my students I've come along a journey of learning how to hand off power, ownership, and responsibility in structured ways. Through them I've discovered that we are most engaged in our education when we know it's ours: when our choices, feelings, interests, needs, learnings, and opinions actually shape the path on which we travel. The Incubator School is an experiment in the most thoughtful, adventurous sense of that word: a place where adults and children venture forth together to discover new knowledge, new structures, and new ways of shaping and collaborating.
We hope your family will join us in this inventive journey.