Imagine a classroom that's run like a football or basketball practice in which like the coaches who are there working with different players in different roles to make sure they have the skills they need, different teachers are working with different students to make sure they have the skills they need.

And not just the academic skills — but the skills they need in life.

That's sort of the approach Pleasant View Elementary School has taken and the school is now being recognized as a national leader in the way education will be shaped over the next generation. Pleasant View has been named as a National Demonstration District by the School Superintendents Association, AASA.

Three of the school's teachers attended the AASA Learning 2025 National Summit in Washington, D.C., held from June 28-30, which focused on the approach that will be needed in the classroom over the next generation. Pleasant View eighth grader teacher Manuel Luevano, third grade teacher Tashima Irving and fourth grade teacher Jonathan Moreno attended the conference.

While the approach is referred to as Learning 2025, Pleasant View superintendent Mark Odsather said everyone involved in the process realizes it will take a generation for all of its concepts to be put in place. He added Pleasant View has been implementing the Learning 2025 initiative for years.

In a nutshell, Learning 2025 transforms the classroom experience from just one teacher standing in front of a class to a more collaborative, open and transparent classroom experience.

“Our whole vision is built on a collaborative process,” Odsather said. “We've been doing a lot of these things for a number of years. I think people are looking for something different in our school systems.”

And while there's obviously a lot more technology now, Odsather said the basic classroom model hasn't changed. “Our classroom, they don't look a lot different than they did 120 years ago,” Odsather said.

He said admittedly the more collaborative approach allows students to be influenced by a number of teachers as opposed to just one teacher.

“We have a ton of variability in a classroom,” said Odsather, who admitted student outcomes are determined in a great deal by how one teacher conducts a classroom. “It eliminates that variability.”

And the more collaborative approach is more effective than the approach that's taken by schools now, Odsather said. “Education is primarily a hierarchal system, top-down,” he said. “That doesn't bode well for anybody.”

Odsather did admit it's difficult for people to understand the concept of Learning 2025. “It's hard to grasp what we're doing,” he said.

When asked about the comparison of a classroom being conducted in the same way as coaches conduct their teams, Luevano and Moreno said the analogy was accurate. “Very similar,” said Luevano about the comparison, adding the model for students is designed to “maximize their learning.”

Whether it's looking at the body language, more than one teacher along with teacher aides in the classroom work “to meet every kid's needs throughout the day. We kind of switch roles back and forth. We do a lot of rotating.”

As an example teachers who are stronger in match will work with students who need help with their math skills and teachers who are stronger in English will work with students who need help with their English skills, Luevano said.

Moreno also said about the comparison to a football or basketball practice, “there's a lot of resemblance to what you're saying.”

In making her comparison, Irving said in education every teacher essentially works by themselves, while that's not the case with practically any other business.

She noted her doctor consults with other doctors. “In education we're isolated,” she said. “Everyone else works together.”

She also said the traditional role of the teacher isn't relevant any more. “It helped me see our role as a teacher isn't really relevant any more,” said Irving about the model Pleasant View is using since students have any information they need at the fingertips.

“My role is to become a facilitator. Teach things technology can't teach. That's where we have to end up as educators.”

Odsather stressed in following the Learning 2025 model his school maintains high academic standards, but the standards aren't based on a proficiency or standards test “one day in time once a year.”

He added teaching students how to be able to conduct themselves in the real world is another part of the Learning 2025 model, especially in a polarized society.

“There's not middle ground,” Odsather said. “You are good or evil. Our kids need to have conversations with each other.”

Odsather said it's rewarding to be recognized at the national level. “It's a testament to the teachers I have out here,” he said.

“What we have at Pleasant View is very unique,” Irving said. “Students are accountable for their own learning.”

Odsather said what's seen at Pleasant View won't be seen at 99 percent of the schools in the country.

“We were further along in the process than what we though,” said Irving about what she learned when she went back to the AASA conference earlier this summer.

But she also said she learned at the conference about what Pleasant View is doing is “we need to build it more.”

She did say, though, she learned “we are doing things the right way.” She added the next step is to involve the community more in the collaborative approach.

“The next step for us is building those relationships with our community members and our parents,” Irving said.

Leuvano said it was inspiring to see at the conference there are other schools doing what Pleasant View is doing.

Odsather said the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the need for a more collaborative approach in education.

“It exposed some of the things we as educators have struggled with for a long time,” he said.

 

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