Everything Begins as a Dream

Today, along with 12 students, 2 teachers and the Clariden School Community, I was able to realize a 20 year old dream: a school program that actually engages students, meeting them where they are and challenging them just enough for them to have to stretch into the learning.  We opened the Global Strengths Program today. By 9:30 AM, the students were up and active in Office 365, our community platform; by 11:00 they had learned Prezi and were on their way to making their first nonlinear presentation introducing themselves to their classmates; when it came time to take a break, we had to coax them to turn away from their work.

“I have been here since 5:00AM waiting for you.” Mr. Samson told the students at morning meeting.  They admitted being up early, too, excited and ready to start the program.

Each student has a MacBook Pro and  soon will have their own bean bag chair. Today we discussed personal space, trust,  the balance between freedom and responsibility and the importance of keeping up their blood sugar.  After lunch, students completed a strengths discovery inventory, a learning styles and an interest inventory. These will go on their student profiles and serve as guides for our projects. Personalized learning is key to our success.

We don’t have homework, but I was asked early in the day, “Can I continue to work on this at home tonight?”  We don’t have bells or silo-ed subjects to attend . Instead, we have problems to solve and questions to ask. I just heard a student say, “Wow, it’s already 1:30!” as though time had flown by. That is exactly what happens when people are energized; they lose track of time. I think we’ve developed something pretty unique and special here. I will be sharing our work and our insights in this blog for our first year. I hope you’ll follow us on our journey!

Jenifer Fox is an internationally published author, educational keynote speaker and leading innovator on 21st Century Learning. Her groundbreaking book, Your Child’s Strengths, a Guide for Teachers and Parents (Viking/Penguin) is widely accepted as the definitive guide to developing success through a focus on strengths for children. Jenifer authored The Differentiated Instruction Book of Lists (Wiley) and has created Differentiated Instruction, an online professional course for teachers.
  1. Jacques Vroom Reply

    Those are 14 fortunate folks.

    Congratulations to all; but especially to Ms. Jenifer Fox, a brilliant, hard-working leader!

  2. Sam Chaltain Reply

    Bravo, Jenifer! Looking forward to more updates.

    • Jenifer Fox Reply

      Thanks all. Sam, looking forward to your book. Could prob. use it as a guide this year!

  3. Tyler Kuelbs Reply

    Mrs. Fox, In the 11 years that Nick has attended school (he began Montessori at 18 months) I have never seen him as excited as he is about the Global Strengths Program! Thank you for your expertise and courage to make your dream a reality for our kids!!!

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