State Senator Visit


This summer, Andy and I did a book study together through UWEC with a group of educators in the Chippewa Valley. The book is called Most Likely to Succeed by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith, and it explores ways in which schools need to be “preparing our kids for the innovation era.”

At our first session, the leader of our study group stood and defined what it means to start a movement. She began by showing us a silly clip of a man at a music festival. This man was clearly enjoying himself and stood on his own on a hill displaying some quite outlandish dance moves. The clip is rather uncomfortable for a moment, as those around him snicker and stare. Eventually, one brave soul joins him, and laughter ensues. Suddenly, all around him, strangers are standing and uniting to join in the foolishness that had been scoffed at only moments earlier. Our leader turned off the video and asked us to start a movement with her.

A movement – a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas.

There is a documentary that was filmed alongside the writing of the book, Most Likely to Succeed, and I had the opportunity to attend a viewing of it with the administration teams in the Chippewa Valley in October. Also in attendance at this viewing happened to be State Senator Kathleen Vinehout who is energized by inventive thinking in teaching and learning. Her excitement echoed off the walls as she entertained the idea of bringing the documentary and some ideas from our area with her to share with other legislators in Madison.

Well … one thing led to another, and last Friday, January 13th, we had the pleasure of welcoming Senator Vinehout to the ARCTIC Zone where she was provided a tour by two student leaders who represented our program and our building very well! As she looked around the room, Senator Vinehout saw tables and chairs on wheels, collaboration stations, exercise balls, wobble stools, and tables you can write on! She saw students collaborating on passion projects and others watching math and social studies lessons online. Some were reading, and others were conducting science experiments. She saw a room full of kids engaged in an enormous variety of tasks – all at the same time! And she couldn’t get enough!

At the end of our first book study session, our leader reminded us of the video and of the first man who had begun the dance. She explained it was he who had begun the dance, but the followers are the ones who began the movement. A movement cannot happen without people working together toward a common goal.

It is easy to feel alone in our classrooms right now, to feel like doors are being closed all around us. We are fortunate to have legislators in our state who have the future in mind for our students. Andy and I are not the first to implement new ideas in our classroom, and we will not be the last, I guarantee it. I urge you to take a look at Senator Vinehout’s website to read about her visit to our space last week on her website, and I encourage you to seek out this book, as well.

Together – let’s start a movement!



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