Paula Kaiser says she is getting a lot of experience as a tour guide these days. She shows people around the Miller Brewery perhaps?
It’s Walker School, a kindergarten through fifth-grade elementary school on S. 119th St. in West Allis.
Kaiser’s title gives you an idea of what is bringing folks to the 350-student school: She is “next generation learning lead” for the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District.
In other words, she is one of the key people in reshaping life in a growing number of classrooms in the district in a way that is making them showcases for what might be the future on a much wider basis – a higher tech, more individualized, less structured approach to learning, even in the earliest grades.
The new approach sure looks different.
Walk into Team Respect – that’s the name of a combined grouping of 54 first- through third-graders – and you don’t see much of what you saw when you were in those grades.
No rows of desks, not even many tables. Instead, there’s friendly furniture like bean bags, a selection of comfortable nooks and lots of space on the carpet. Kids seem to be mostly sitting around, even lying around, sometimes milling around, by themselves or in pairs or small groups. Most of the time, no teacher is in the front of the room telling everyone what to do.