To take on the jobs of tomorrow, students must become more than good test takers. They need to become makers who design, sketch, build, and prototype. And their classrooms will need more than a chalkboard and a set of textbooks.
We aren't prescribing anything. We're not claiming to be the experts. We aren't advocating for or against any program. We are going to create a platform that says very explicitly what it is that teachers experience in their classrooms.
When I began teaching, my colleagues and I quickly realized that our students didn't have access to the same resources we had growing up. We knew there were supplies and resources that could help our students, but our school district simply couldn't afford them.
If anything, we hope that DonorsChoose.org is going to be a prompt, a nudge in the side of the public school system to improve and to start delivering these materials and experiences that students need and to make it easier for teachers to innovate.
Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on DonorsChoose.org. Requests range from pencils for a poetry writing unit to violins for a school recital to microscope slides for a biology class.
For my 9th birthday, my only wish was to eat like a farmer boy. I had devoured 'The Little House on the Prairie' book series and wanted to be like Almanzo Wilder, the protagonist of 'Farmer Boy,' one of the later installments in the 'Little House' series.
I get my share of 'cold' requests via LinkedIn from people who are launching non-profit or for-profit ventures and who request a meeting to get my input or help. I wish I could say yes to all of them, but given limited bandwidth, I say yes to the subset who've written a compelling description of their work and who are underrepresented.
After 14 years of running DonorsChoose.org as someone who had never written a line of code, I did do a three-month night school course. After all these years, I could at least speak some of the same vocabulary and have a first-hand appreciation for what my colleagues on the engineering team are doing.
If you track your organization's creativity by the number of brainstorms on your calendar, you're missing out. It's more important to capture those unplanned sparks of inspiration that so often come when we're cooking dinner, taking a shower, or commuting to work.
My colleagues and I were always having the same conversation in the teachers lunchroom about books we wanted our students to read, a field trip we knew would really bring a subject matter to life... And most of us would go into our own pockets to buy just paper and pencils.