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A Lesson We Keep Relearning: It's All About Relationships

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    EL Education

"EL Education is a network of 160 schools that emphasizes a culture of respect and belonging. Every day begins with an advisory period called Crew where they build relationships and success skills," said Tom Vander Ark.

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Paul Wezeman was a tech-savvy teacher on a planning team for a new school in Western Washington in 1994 (the year WWW showed up on the cover of Time magazine). He made the case for an Apple computer for every two students and set out to create a new kind of fifth-grade experience, one not limited by a whole group slog through textbooks. 

His student-centered, project-based classroom challenged young people to think, to create and to collaborate.  

Wezeman got to know each of his students. He helped every learner discover their superpowers and created leadership roles that leveraged their strengths. For students stifled by traditional classrooms (like my daughter), Wezeman unlocked a passion for learning and changed life trajectories. 

Many of us were really optimistic 25 years ago that tech-enabled learning would be a game-changer. Yet where it has, it’s been about relationships more than the tech. 

We keep rediscovering that most learners are motivated by relationships and grow in community.