Time Well Spent
Thoughts on life and education by Rachel Green Soto
Meet Synergy's first Teacher-Mentor on March 11th, 2017 at our Orange Coworking Information Event. But in the meantime, here a bit about what he has to say about education, his role as a teacher, and what he envisions for his students.
"To build a future we must first help our youth build themselves. My philosophy of education has always been based on my grandfather's view on life. My Pap was a steamfitter, a loving husband, an open-minded father, and a perfect grandfather. He used to call me a "friend of the working man." Over time, I eventually realized that phrase was more than a compliment but rather a statement on how I live my life. Nowadays I realize it meant I was hard-working, open-minded, willing, flexible, brave, thoughtful, and kind.
Students at Synergy need to strive to be hard-working, thoughtful, well-rounded, open-minded, and generous members of the world. In a room full of middle schoolers, Synergy kids will be the ones with great posture, politeness, presence, and professionalism. They will tell stories of adventure, success, and how failure led them to love learning.
It is my drive and my life purpose to encourage others to be the best that they can be. I want to help students grow to become confident, compassionate, creative, and driven. Everyone has the ability to do great things and it is my job to not only help them find their path or paths in life but also guide them to greatness.
Those moments when kids realize something about themselves that they didn’t realize before are my favorite moments as a teacher. My students develop life and momentary purposes, they know what they value, and they research topics that interest them and check their facts. My students care about themselves, their peers, and their world. They don't just point out problems, they provide solutions.
In 2017 America, students still aren’t finding out who they are, what they are interested in, or what they are excellent at until it's too late. Families are wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on universities as their kids experiment with a variety of studies, social pressures, and other stimuli.
It is my belief that students need more opportunities for self-discovery and growth in Middle School. When students leave our Middle School they will know how to manage not only the extremely intimidating social structure of a high school, but also the rigor of the academics. Synergy works with students to explore these realms now so they are prepared for the various environments they'll encounter in the future.
I want to grow the idea of "Futures Leaders" into an educational reality. Students will leave Synergy prepared for the future. A future so quickly evolving and changing that it's hard to keep up with.
To be successful in today's environment means being able to balance one's personal life and one's professional/ academic life. To me this "life skill" starts in 5th grade and continues through death. Synergy is where you want your child to learn about, practice, and master this balance. They will leave our school program ready to lead the future of our planet."
Experiential learning takes individual involvement and time.
Experiential learning puts its focus on the process rather than the product. .
Experiential learning connects the pieces and creates opportunities for everything to make sense.
Experiential learning is multi-sensory.
Experiential learning is relevant and motivating.
Read more as published on the Alt Ed Blog March 3, 2017
Rachel Green Soto
Rachel Green Soto is a community organizer and leader continuously involved with and often overseeing local neighborhood and city level organizations that support local businesses and improve the quality of life and educational experiences for parents and students. Rachel is an advocate for parents, students, and educators in any way she can be.
Laughter, smiles, and engagement among all students within any learning environment is a beautiful sight! In fact, this is top priority, in my book, for any learning environment that I develop, in which I teach, or where I place my children. A truly effective and enjoyable learning environment will look this way for teachers, students, and parents alike when the fit is right.
I’ve learned over the years that it comes as a surprise to many that…
As a mom of four, I know that raising children and balancing the life schedules of a family is inevitably going to feel harried and chaotic at times (or often). However, to me it seems like a dim prognosis for the 18+ year commitment of raising each child to have to “endure” any learning environment. As an adult, I seek to live and work in an environment where I want to be day in and day out and also where I experience regular success, as defined by myself, so I can’t imagine it would be any different for students and their lives at home and school.
What would happen if we all decided that, without exception, where we place our children for school and learning will be an experience that adds value to our lives and help us thrive? That life-giving practices that promote lifelong health of mind, heart, and body such as mindfulness, kindness, outdoor adventures, time dedicated to rest and enjoy, regular engagement with visual, musical, and theatrical arts, and daily movement were non-negotiables. Can you imagine how amazing it would be for our kids, our families, and our community?
As we approach spring break, a time of fun and rejuvenation, this is a perfect time to reflect and evaluate how things in life are going. To do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. I encourage parents, teachers, and students to evaluate their current learning environments as well. If something is not working, then let’s not delay in making a change. Start the conversation with whomever necessary and let’s do better right away.
Each student is unique and not every learning environment works for everyone. Consider what you want most as the ‘final product” of the investment in your child’s education and then consider how your child’s current or future learning environment is aligned with that.
This is my “final product” wish list for my children’s education.
I want for my child...
What would add to this list?
Austin is a great place to live for variety in schooling options, support and resources in education, and community with others. If you need help getting started please don’t hesitate to reach out…we can start with a conversation over coffee and figure out any next steps from there. I’m here to support you. You are not alone.