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RIDE supports several blogs throughout our website where Rhode Islanders and RIDE staff share their thoughts.

On this page, we have collected all of the blogs on our site - many of which share posts from Rhode Island educators other than RIDE staff. Blogs are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Commissioner's Corner: Blog posts and messages from the Commissioner to the Rhode Island community.
  • District Teacher of the Year (DTOY): Posts from the Rhode Island District Teachers of the Year, past and present, who share about instructional successes and challenges they encounter in Rhode Island classrooms.
  • Equitable Access to Excellent Educators: Rhode Island educators and RIDE staff explore factors and perspectives on the importance of ensuring that all students are taught by high quality educators.
  • Leadership: Reflections and insights from RIDE’s Leadership Fellow and other district and school leaders on the challenges and opportunities of being a school leader.
  • Rhode Island Poet Laureate: Reflections and poetry focused on teaching, learning, and the experience of education from Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate.
  • Rhode Island Science Education (R.I.S.E.): A communication blog to update stakeholders in education and in the community on important developments, events and accomplishments in science education in Rhode Island.
  • Student Voice: Because student voice is an essential component of our discussion on education, RIDE will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

Click on a category below to filter by a particular blog:

What’s in Your Backpack?

Posted by: Meg Geoghegan on 12/30/2019

Jenn Kittredge
Grade 5 Teacher/District Math Curriculum Leader

Lawn Ave. School, Jamestown

Whenever I see a kindergartener wearing a huge backpack, I can’t help but smile. The pack dwarfs the small child who is happily hauling it to or from a busy day at school. The child and backpack seem to defy physics yet there is an artful balance, as both remain upright and moving forward. Just as no two kindergarteners are the same, no two backpacks are either. Such large packs could be a burden to carry but these small people accomplish the task with ease and joy.

A backpack is a fitting metaphor for the educational journey we all undertake as human beings. It begins the day we are born and the desire to learn and grow is innate and impacts all aspects of our lives. While there are common processes by which we learn and make sense of our world, our journey is as unique us as each kindergartener’s backpack is unique. Learning is a personal journey, one we must accept, and carry as our own, always moving forward even when it’s difficult. Our backpack is the lens through which we understand and navigate our world. Like kindergarteners, we must carry our backpacks joyfully, open to every chance to add to its contents.

The purpose of education is to provide a meaningful path for a child’s educational journey as she fills her backpack. Schools must provide the tools she needs to thrive in our ever-changing world and prepare her for a future we cannot predict. To this end, there are essential contents which must be present in every child’s backpack.

First, students must be supported to be active creators of their own learning. Essential to constructing meaning about the world, their backpacks must contain the ability to question, explore, and reflect on new learning. Schools must be places of possibility where backpacks are filled with authentic learning experiences allowing students to be curious, to construct meaning, and to deepen their understanding of the world around them.

Next, education must involve nurturing the heart as well as the mind and following the child as she embarks on her learning journey. Schools must ensure the growth and success of the whole child. Every student in every classroom must be valued, supported and challenged to thrive cognitively, emotionally, physically and socially. The backpack must hold not only a well-rounded, strong foundation in a wide variety of academic content, but also contain habits of mind essential for future success. It must contain tools allowing her to think critically and work collaboratively. Further, it must hold a willingness to take risks and to confidently and creatively embrace and solve problems as she becomes an independent thinker.

Finally, a student’s backpack must contain the ability to make moral, mindful choices about how she will interact with the world. Schools must be places where diversity is embraced and celebrated. A student’s backpack must include an open heart to accept and celebrate the differences and diversity among people and it must contain moral compass to guide her interactions. She should have the tools to act mindfully and respectfully as she interrelates with the world around her. Connected to this, a child’s backpack must contain a sense of place and respect for our environment so that she can live mindfully and sustainably.

As guides on a child’s journey, educators, parents and leaders must be cognizant of the contents of the growing backpack, ensuring its contents are worthy and valuable. The successful collection of meaningful experiences and skills in the child’s backpack depends on all stakeholders working together to ensure it does not become a burden to the child. All educational decisions must be grounded in the core belief that every child is unique, every child is valuable and every child can and has a strong desire to learn. 

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