Special Blog for Michigan education students!

Note: this is a special blog written for Ethan Lowenstein’s [https://twitter.com/lowensteinethan] students at Eastern Michigan University who are involved in a pilot of EMU’s Urban Place-based Education Program. Click here and scroll down to the Comments section to see the dialogue between me and Prof Lowenstein’s students

Greetings Michigan!

I am delighted to be writing to you about an aspect of place-based education that I find most compelling. I commend each of you for reaching this exciting portal of your career. Much of the edgier, most relevant work in place-based education is happening now in urban environments and it must be thrilling to be part of it. I live in Vermont—and have learned mostly in natural environments. But lately, I think more about the built environment and how humans interact in those environments than I do about leaf patterns and mosaics of wildlife. Still, let’s not get into an either/or analysis—it is all connected!

These are the thoughts I would like to share with you:

So many things that make up our everyday life have hidden stories, we just never stop to think about them. Storm drains, windmills, clothespins, bicycle gears. There are so many things that are part of life that we don’t stop and pay attention to. When we do it changes how we understand things.


One of the things that I keep  loving about place-based  education is that teachers and  students continue to discover new  things to learn. There is always a  new way to look at something or a  way to discover some other part  of the puzzle that all of a sudden  becomes important.

I think the discovery of these  things not only steers us to think about the thing differently, it makes us be better learners, noticers and interpreters all around. Philosophers as well as educators have written about this special aspect of learning. Progressive thinkers—philosophers and educators alike—agree that authentic learning involves some excitement and some surprise.

I hope you recognize this kind of feeling in your own experience. When you say: “Wow — I never noticed this before and I walk by it every day.” Or: “This makes so much sense—I never stopped to figure it out.” “I get it!” And then after these moments – you have new eyes for seeing what is around you. Why can’t these “moments” be part of school?


Culverts have been an interest of mine for a while. Somehow they have gained a special place in my thinking – representing one of those things that we all should pay attention to. So I was pretty thrilled when –at the start of a course I teach called Watershed for Every Classroom http://watershedmatters.lcbp.org/ — I had a conversation with a teacher (Alicia Hanford) about her interest in culverts and her thoughts about basing a curriculum unit on them. Her community of South Royalton, Vermont had been battered from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene the previous year (2011) and her own awareness of what water could do had changed radically.

We talked a lot in that first conversation about how you would teach young learners about culverts. Teachers in the Watershed for Every Classroom program work on their curriculum projects from July to the following May. During the year I saw bits and pieces of Alicia’s unit—I was impressed by the various activities that she was considering and how she continued to “unpack” this complex problem. What essential question would frame her unit? What would students need to know, do and understand to grasp the multi-faceted ways that people deal with water issues? There was no pre-written prescription for this….no other units on culverts….no texts already written. But she persevered and the result was outstanding! Her final essential question with which she organized her thinking was: “How do people in our community try to manage or solve river related water problems?”

IMG_3037_culvert_solvingWaterProblemsCulverts are things that we drive by and over every day. They manage and control—and in many cases hold at bay – raging waters. I started thinking about culverts in my fifties…what would it mean for students if they learned about these dynamics in elementary school? What if they had a whole different perspective on the power of water—and a more vibrant view of how people work together and make decisions for the benefit of their communities? Especially in this ever-more-challenging climate?

One of the things to which Alicia attributed her success was the support of a friend who worked in natural resources. This friend had a lot of knowledge about the many logistics of building and maintaining culverts and the kind of thinking and analysis that had to be used. This an impressive aspect of this unit—and it aligned with the STEM design standards! As the new NGSS standards suggest, the many ways that “real people” solve problems can be explored by young people… so that they grow up with abilities and attributes that allow them to be problem-solvers in real life! This seems elementary. But it actually is somewhat profound! We often keep students from learning complex thinking because they aren’t dealing with authentic perplexities. But there they are — all around us!


This was also an example of an “authentic community partner!” This is something that the “experts” of place-based education recommend. But it is a challenge for teachers. This particular collaboration grew from a friendship, but the school also made connections with the local watershed group—a citizen-based group that had a vested interest in helping young people better understand water problems. It was their “culvert analysis” process that the students used to learn how to assess what kind of culvert should be installed at what location. This wasn’t “assimilated problem-solving” – this was the REAL THING! Alicia writes: “The White River Partnership comes into the classroom to discuss how humans coexist with the natural world in terms of managing water.

We discuss different reasons why water needs to be managed; we then discuss installing culverts to create roads. The White River Partnership teaches the students about culverts and flooding. The students learn about bankfull, the math behind choosing a properly sized culvert, the material needed / preferred, the cost and whether or not the culvert is “fish friendly.”

Alicia did an amazing job finding ways for her students to engage with the local landscape. This kind of learning I define with a “Sites of Engagement” lesson plan. It is a format in which teachers can identify the place where their students can grapple with a big idea and work towards an outcome that reflects that new learning. Alicia writes of her plan to visit a site where students could examine culverts up close:

“With the White River Partnership and parent volunteers we take a trip to a culvert that has been rebuilt since it was destroyed during Hurricane Irene. While at our “site of engagement” on Broad Brook the students take the knowledge they learned from the White River Partnership and apply it in the field. The students have a field sheet that was put together by the White River Partnership with input from teachers at a training we (teachers) attended the previous year.”

“The larger outcome/ plan of this field trip is to help the students realize what goes into installing a properly sized culvert, including material, cost, with minimal impact on aquatic life and how humans can manage water with the least amount of disruption to the natural flow of water to avoid flooding in the future.”

NOTE: Her “site of engagement” lesson addresses the Next Generation Science Standard Grade 4 ESS3-2 – Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural earth processes on humans. As well as Next Generation Science Standard Grade 4 ESS2-1 – Make observations and / or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind or vegetation.”

great teaching_kids on logs study2

Teaching a unit like this is a complex business. The teacher has to be a self-motivated learner, be brave, orchestrate many different pieces, be organized and creative….so many things! I bet you could make your own list of what it takes to invite your students into this kind of learning!

The important thing to realize, is, I think, how many opportunities there are for this kind of adventure. Follow your own learning and interests. Follow your heart. The most satisfying learning journeys you take will be fueled by the things you love and care about.

The culvert unit is set in rural Vermont. How do people in large cities solve water problems? Have you ever seen a rain garden? I once saw an intriguing diagram by a hydrologist/ engineer of a plan to plant trees on city sidewalks. The tree got enough water, the sidewalk not too much. I invite you to walk around your neighborhood and think about how water moves and what humans have done to manage its ways.


I wish you well in your chosen career path and hope it includes some wonderful adventures outside the classroom!

Thank you Professor Ethan! I look forward to the conversation!

NOTE: Alicia Hanford’s complete unit overview will be online soon at                             the Curriculum Library on Watershed Matters—                 http://watershedmatters.lcbp.org/curriculum_library.html

31 thoughts on “Special Blog for Michigan education students!

  1. Hi Ethan, Amy, and EMU students,

    I finally had a chance to check out this blog and Amy’s description of a unit focused on culverts. This reminded me of a couple of resources, one I learned about yesterday from David Greenwood. Anders Sandberg, a professor at York University in Toronto, has developed an alternative campus tour that focuses on a range of different generally unrecognized or avoided issues. You can find this at http://alternativecampustour.info.yorku.ca/sites/ . Look in particular at his discussion about Stong Pond–created to deal with storm water that needed to be dealt with as more and more land was developed for university purposes. All of this is closely related to the issue of culvert size. Anders had also mentioned to me when I was revising a chapter for a book he edited a wonderful article about urban stormwater issues in Philadelphia written by Anne Spirn about Mill Creek. Here’s the link to her article: http://www.annewhistonspirn.com/pdf/SpirnMillCreek2005.pdf . At the time of project, she was a professor of urban planning at the University of Pennsylvania. She and her students worked with students at a middle school in the Mill Creek drainage, teaching them how to read the landscape. A central part of this was learning how to read the impact of not taking into account exactly the factors that lead to the use of culverts. The article describes a powerful example of urban place-based education.

    Good luck with your work.

    Best wishes,

  2. Hello Amy! First and foremost thank you for creating this blog for us. It is a privilege to be able to interact directly with an expert such as yourself. Thank you for your time.

    Every place has observable facts and ways to interpret and elaborate upon these these facts. My question is: What do you think is the most important thing to keep in mind when leading students from observation to interpretation? What should a teacher be most aware of when trying to teach students the skill of interpreting historical evidence?

    1. Hi Jeff-This is a great example of a question I would much rather talk about than type about! Are there two questions here? It seems like you are drawn to students doing more than just observing….that you want them to really think about what they are seeing and understand things better…..and by historical evidence you mean…artifacts? Documents? Primary sources of all kinds? Old houses? Maps????
      See what I mean. Too many wonderful things to talk about. I will say that the level of interpretation deepens alongside the extent to which the student is compelled to better understand something about the evidence. Is there a problem posed in his mind that makes him want to think about it differently? Or is it just an assignment? What is the context of the observation…..that provides the question. If the question seems real and compelling to the learner he is more likely to think deeply about it. Or deeper!
      There are two great books about doing local history.
      Umphrey, M.L. (2007). The power of community-centered education: Teaching as a craft of place. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
      And Doug Selwyn’s book: Following the Threads: Bringing Inquiry Research into the Classroom.

      Have fun!

  3. Thank you so much for your wonderful posting Amy! It was very interesting how a unit plan come be formed just by taking a walk through your neighborhood and examining things that may have originally been overlooked. I did have a question and it is something I’ve been struggling with a lot throughout Ethan’s class, you make it seem so easy coming up with something like this however I cannot find ways to incorporate high school mathematics into simple things like this. It is easier with the more basics of math but as you start to go up in grade levels I find it hard to connect real world things with it. I was wondering if you had any tips or hints to give out??

    Annie Krupsky

    1. Hi Annie

      You are right to feel challenged by bringing math into this local work. Or bringing this local work into math! Math teachers—esp high school!— have long been hard-pressed to work in this way and still get done all the skill work they are required to do. I do however think this is changing. With the new NGSS standards and the connections that are explicit to the Common Core there is more opportunity for science and math teachers to collaborate. And there is more rationale for math teachers to make their curriculum more relevant.

      In an earlier blog I wrote about the SMILE program “Something to SMILE about!” Did you take a look at that? Two high school teachers: one math, one science are teaming in an experiential course for 10th graders to investigate math and science in their community. It is a great program. I can share more information about their work if you are interested.

      Despite inspiring stories, you still may find it a challenge when you start to teach. But there are ways that you can make important connections for your kids without devoting a ton of curriculum time to it. For example, ask students to keep a journal—or maintain a bulletin board or blog with real-world connections. Find ways to contextualize mathematical problem-solving. Who uses this skill? Why? Invite folks who use math into your classroom. Share the time with another teacher. Think of ways you can connect to the work your students are doing in other classes. Think of one field-based experience you could take in the Fall to set down some basic ideas about making math connections to the “real world.” You will find ways!


  4. Hello Ms. Amy,

    Thank you for taking the time out and creating a blog uniquely for our class. I have enjoyed reading through the comments and just had a quick question of my own. I know that learning styles can be different, inside vs. outside the classroom, but what are some pointers you could give on transitioning techniques from in the class to out in a place-based setting? In other words, what are some techniques you find yourself altering or tweaking to transition into a more place-based setting?


    1. Hi Jeffrey

      Thanks for the note. I think I addressed this quite extensively in Chapter 7. At least part of your question. I did not talk about learning styles and differentiation specifically so I will make a comment about that in relation to PBE.

      This is a little overly simplistic but: When a teacher delivers canned material for the student to digest–she is more likely compelled to differentiate the material in regards to learning styles or students’ readiness. When she is offering an authentic experience….at a stream bank, food kitchen, wastewater treatment plant…..the student will differentiate his own response. The experience happens differently for all students…It is not that the teacher doesn’t have to consider different learning styles but there is more opportunity for the student to self-regulate and choose alternative forms of expression when the material has come alive for him. This is a little bit related to Jeff’s question about going deeper—it is all a matter of context. The learner—in out of class experiences—has more opportunity to express different learning styles rather than having them dictated.

      Hope that gives you something to think about-and let me know if I missed any of your question!
      Best, Amy

      1. Amy–You’ve really got me thinking here about the relationship of authenticity, self-regulation, differentiation, and a certain kind of violence we may be inflicting on students by keeping them in the classroom.

        Just as we have put ourselves in a position, because of environmental degradation, to “manage” the environment, I am now drawing a parallel to how we degrade the learning environment and then have to manage it in order to maintain “diversity.”

        Wow. Thanks Amy!

  5. Amy, thank you so much for writing this blog for our class. I enjoyed reading it and learning about your journey through place-based education. The number one question I have reading this is: In your experience with place-based education, have you ever had any doubts or apprehensions about it? Especially when you were just learning of it. Thank you so much again and I look forward to your feedback.

    1. Hi Steven-

      this is a great question! I was surprised that I am answering no to doubts! Apprehension….maybe.

      I do remember a few times that I felt like I had just let loose a corral of wild horses! The very first time I assigned a community-based interview without really thinking it through—and all of a sudden there was a massive amount of information coming in to my classroom over which I had no control. It was awesome but I remember feeling a little bit……whoooooaaaaaaaa!

      and apprehension? I think so. I imagine a little bit of apprehension is healthy when you are trying something new—with human beings! But I really do stand behind the “just try it” philosophy I address in the last chapter of my book. Go forward–and as my friend Steven said: “Purple beans, old folks and 3rd graders….what could be bad?”

      The other emotion that I think I mention in the book is that wistful feeling every now and then — when you are headed out and you think how peaceful it would be to stay inside and do worksheets….that is a part of this emotional landscape too….but then you go–and it is AMAZING!

      In sum-it is very important to include teachers FEELINGS as part of this conversation so thanks for bringing that in!


  6. Hi Amy,

    Thank you for your insightful words on place-based education. While reading the blog posting I kept thinking back to a comment you made in the opening paragraph – it is all connected. I wholeheartedly agree with this. In order for true learning and retention to take place there needs to be a personal connection between content and student. Place-based education is precisely the key to making that connection! I am so excited to start my career and be a part of the movement that makes true learning happen!

    I was wondering, logistically speaking, how teachers go from year and to year developing place-based education projects? Does each new school year bring a new challenge to focus on? Or does every new group of students pass through the same learning experience?

    Thanks again for taking the time to answer questions.


    1. Hi Sarah—

      Thanks so much for your spirited entry. I imagine it does feel very grand to start your career with this much excitement and conviction!

      I don’t think that there is a set answer to your question. I had a Lake Champlain unit (our local watershed) that I taught every fall—it was a tradition. Students and parents expected it. Although it changed some every year—it held an identity all its own and had its niche in the curriculum of our school. In my book, Gay Craig’s unit was this type of unit. This kind of unit I guess you could say is institutionalized.

      I think there are other units that are MORE institutionalized, such as state history or local river studies. I think of this as “old-fashioned place-based…” Sometimes schools REQUEST that teachers do place-based….because the rationale is so obvioud. to an extent. Most times the teacher finds the connection.

      Most times the teacher finds the connection. Sometimes you do something unique—that just emerges from questions your students ask—or something that happens. You hop on to the energy and follow it. This kind of unit is highly individualized.
      Like the practice—it has many possibilities!

      Best wishes!

  7. Hi Amy,

    I enjoyed tremendously reading your blog and everyone’s insightful comments and questions! Thank you for putting this blog together for us and giving us a chance of interacting with the author of the book we are reading now! While reading your blog I was fascinated about endless possibilities PBE can offer for teachers and students to engage in complex learning processes and ways of applying one knowledge in other similar situations. I love things I am learning about PBE! I also want to share the lines from your blog that made me think:

    As the new NGSS standards suggest, the many ways that “real people” solve problems can be explored by young people… so that they grow up with abilities and attributes that allow them to be problem-solvers in real life! This seems elementary. But it actually is somewhat profound! We often keep students from learning complex thinking because they aren’t dealing with authentic perplexities. But there they are — all around us!

    I find these lines are indeed so profound! It really seems PBE is one of the great ways of developing agency in our kids to deal with real situations and see themselves as real problem solvers! That is something I feel I was missing when I went through education. I feel that needs to be part of any learning because as Ethan Lowenstein wrote in one of his pieces, “Though we are born into strong social institutions, in the end we choose who we are and collectively what our society will look like.” Thus, I see these lines as a call for actively creating our present and future having a vision for it! PBE offers our youth and adults to engage in meaningful, engaging and fun ways of learning where not only we feel that everything is decided for us, but we learn that we can make a difference in the lives of each others.

    Thank you for this rich conversation!

    1. Thank you Nigora for taking this conversation further! You have brought out the truth that maybe being open to all the possibilities is the most important thing of all. And your view towards agency is spot on! Warm wishes on your journey!


  8. First I want to say thank you for taking the time to write a blog to our EMU class. I am enjoying reading your book and as some of my fellow peers have said I knew nothing about place-based education before this class. It’s amazing to see how much of a difference one technique can make when it comes to students learning. I wish my teachers in school would have used this approach because I am a very hands-on learner and I think it would have helped me succeed more in my studies. My question for you is, if a teacher is wanting to use the place-based education approach should they try it on their own first or try to get other teachers to join them? Thank you so much for your time again!!

    1. Hi Nicole

      I am so glad that you are moved by the promise of this practice! Your enjoyment and commitment will impact your effectiveness in many wondrous ways!

      I think the answer to your question is BOTH! I don’t think it is a choice you have to make. There are some things you will do on your own because of logistics and personal commitment. There are other times you will find colleagues to join you. Sometimes the teaming might be based on scheduling or practicality. Other times you might find a soul mate or mates and launch a larger, ongoing, ever changing program. One of my most important colleagues, when I was just launching my lake studies–when I was a middle school teacher—-worked in another school. We taught different kids in different schools but planned a lot of lessons and excursions together and gave each other a lot of encouragement and support. Collegiality happens so many ways! My advice is to be open to all of them.

      Take care-Amy

      1. One of the functions of the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (www.semiscoalition.org) and the other hubs in the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (www.glstewardship.org) is to help create a community of passionate place-based educators. We’ve found that when teachers have a chance to meet each other from across the region and get to know each others’ strengths and sense of purpose (For my students–been thinking a lot about “purpose” since the Town Hall meeting at DIT 🙂 ), that teachers then start to form partnerships both within and across schools. This is a “strength-based coalition building” method of supporting teachers. It is so easy to get “landlocked” inside one’s own classroom or school or district. One piece of advice I always give new educators is to hook yourself up with some professional network. Who are your people? Who can you put down deep roots with? How can we combine our strengths and support each other in taking care of our needs and the collective needs of our schools and communities? How can we create and practice democracy and caring through the way we build community? As a place-based educator with some experience, these are questions I think about all the time.

  9. Hi Amy, I would to thank you for taking the time to make a blog specifically for our EMU class. I have enjoyed reading your book as well as learning about place-based education. Similarly to Sarah the amount of information I knew previous to this class was very limited. As I have been grasping how place-based education can be implemented into classrooms around the world, my question to you is how as a beginning teacher do you start to integrate placed-based into your class? Should I wait to establish my teaching methods first and then see where that takes me?

    1. Hi Jada!

      I guess I would have to say: Don’t wait! Jump in! Of course you have to do what you are comfortable with–and work it out in the school where you are. But don’t put off the good stuff. Embrace it!

      That said-your first forays into PBE do not have to be huge. It may be that you want to have a little sideline inquiry that you run all year that connects your students to their place in some way. It doesn’t have to be a grand undertaking…it can be a way that you can learn something about your students…maybe a special blog or corner of your classroom, or monthly suspensions of “business as usual.” So many ways to go. Follow your heart!


  10. I enjoyed reading your book and I am pretty excited that we have this opportunity to converse with you through this blog. My knowledge of place-based curriculum was very limited before reading your book and getting to experience it first hand in Dr. Lowenstein’s class. I am hooked! I think this approach is great and I look forward to implementing it in my classroom. What do you think is the number one thing new teachers can do to prepare themselves for teaching place-based curriculum in their classroom? Thank you!

    1. Hi Sarah!

      I loved this question! What I think is the #1 thing for new teachers to prepare themselves for PBE is to find a way to listen to their students. This lies at the center of it all. Once your orient yourself to the ways that human communication is at the root of all teaching, the rest will follow. Practice asking students questions about how they like to learn, what they are interested in, how they view things. Learn about action research. Kate Toland, one of the teachers I profiled in my book was all about this. She would carry a notebook with her as she moved around the classroom—seeing it as the most exciting laboratory of learning that was. She would always be asking: “what worked?” “Where are they going with this?” What is engaging them? What do I need to change?” She would sometimes call me up at the end of a day and say things like: “You wouldn’t believe what ___ said today!” or “I can’t believe what they are doing now!” I think when you honestly listen to your students….you will end up at their “place.”

      Have fun! Amy

  11. Thank you so much for taking the time to interact with our class! I love the place-based education approach and believe that I would have been a much more engaged student had more of my teachers implemented this approach to their instruction. How would you reccomend a high school English teacher use place-based education when using the traditional literature ( Romeo & Juliet, The Scarlet Letter, Etc) that they are expected to incorporate into their curriculum? I believe that using PBE would lead to students having a richer understanding of the content but am unsure of how to execute it in the classroom.

    1. Hi Meredith!

      I had a short section on this in my book; p. 64-65. Assuming you saw this?

      The two ways I think about literature—and place-based education — are as follows:

      One is setting…if we come to understand how our place affects us and how we think….we will have a better way to understand how it works in other stories other than our own….lots of untapped connections here. Helps students write stories too.

      The other is to consider personal experiences of life themes—in Romeo and Juliet—consider what is love? What is [my] understanding of love? How does my view relate to the time and place I live in? In the Scarlet Letter—what does it mean when a person is shunned by society? What are the modern-day parallels to this kind of behavior? How do peoples’ attitudes change?

      Those are some thoughts. They are by no means definitive! I am sure you will come up with new ways to link literature and place in your own teaching. that is the beauty of it! Follow the connections.


      1. Hi Amy and Meredith –

        Thanks for addressing the topic of PBE for English teachers. I just re-read pages 64-5 in Place-based Curriculum Design and found myself strongly drawn to the idea of students imagining a future for their community, based on actual features of their surroundings. Presumably, the more students notice and understand about where they live, the more (interesting) material they would have to work with when imagining a future version of it.

        Also, Amy, your comment about setting being taught with no concern to how students think of their own surroundings is really provocative. It might be possible for English teachers to sample fiction from various genres, with attention to how “place” works in each. (For example, in Gothic and Romantic literature, setting usually has an active, obvious role in the story.) Students could propose a few different definitions of “setting” – is it really just the place where stuff happens? Or could it actually shape what happens? If it shapes it, to what extent? What happens when someone from one place goes to a new place? (Would these be “essential questions”? How could I plan a lesson with them?)

        Thank you, Amy, for sharing your thoughts with us. Your book is full of interesting ideas and I hope to be able to put some into practice when I start teaching.


        1. Hi Beth!

          Thanks so much for your thoughtful response and taking the discussion further. It makes me think how important the sharing of ideas will be in your chosen career. When teachers have time to talk it through—then it gets better!

          I love your thoughts about place and future. English teachers could ask young people to imagine their future in the many ways you reference. What would my actions look like….in this place.

          Your questions about setting and individuals are great. Of course you could craft lessons around this. You probably know more than I do about great literature that answers this question….what is this place? How is it different than the place I am in now. A unit on global travels.

          Limitless possibilities!



  12. First I want to thank you for taking the time you write to our class! My question is if you have administrators that aren’t a fan of students going out side of the classroom how would you bring the natural environment to the students, inside the classroom.

    1. Hi David

      That is a big question! I liked the way one author answered it:
      Lisa Lusero (2006) names four kinds of experiences: “interacting with the real thing; interacting with evidence of the real thing, interacting with something comparable to the real thing and linking the real thing to something with which we interact” (p. 58).

      I agree with her that there are all kinds of levels of “real.” I think it comes down to a matter of context. How many teachers teach big ideas without kids touching rocks, looking at pictures of local streams, comparing mountains to ones nearby and elsewhere in the world. Touch bark, salamanders, hatch eggs….Teachers can have guest speakers, images of real places (not canned posters of who knows what), texts that address local issues, live animals.

      It is not a matter of just getting out of school….Although that is something to aim for—there are many ways to bring, as one teacher said, “the out, in!”

      Lastly—just a comment on administrators—While it is a reality that the funding and logistics of getting outside are daunting—it is really true that “where there is a will, there is a way.”

      Take care-Amy

      1. I agree with you Amy.

        In the case of administrators who’s support you want–I would add that you also have to consider three things: a) If you are a great teacher who is getting good results, administrators will usually cut you lots of slack, b) bringing in resources to the school through the community partnerships you form, the grants you write, and the good press you create from the school goes a long way, c) if you involve families in your place-based projects and have their support, they can influence your administrators to support your work.

        So, place-based education shifts your role a bit from being not only a “teacher” but being a “politician” and “community organizer.”

        Thanks for the good question David and your reply Amy. I love how you break down “real” here. I’ll have to check out Lusero’s work.


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