Sunday, February 20, 2011
I like to be in charge. More specifically, I like to be in control. I want to be the person driving the car, and I certainly want to be the one holding the television remote. I’m pretty sure my wife loves this about me. Or maybe I should say I wish my wife loves this about me.
Everyday, I work with teachers who also want to be in control. I can’t speak for suburban communities, but in the inner city, the term control is synonymous with power. In city schools, we seem to really care about showing who has the power in the school. Principals show their power by writing teachers up for anything and everything. Teachers show their power by throwing students out of class, giving out lots of F’s, and choosing to teach what they decide students should value. Students show us their power by not coming to school, not doing their homework, and choosing not to engage in class. We’re all so consumed with showing everyone else how much power we have, we lose sight of why became administrators and teachers to begin with.
Power and control is also evident in daily instructional practices. When I first learned to teach, I was an incredibly entertaining lecturer. I made sure every question, idea and discussion point came through me. It was my way of holding the television remote at my job also. Today, when I’m working with new teachers I use the image of a ball of yarn. If the yarn is unraveling every time everyone speaks, where is the yarn? In my early classrooms, an observer could have followed the yarn easily; from me to a student, back to me and to another student and back to me…
It took me several years to learn that learning was much better when the yarn symbolically moved from student to student to student and only seldomly came through me. I see this struggle in action every day when I’m in classrooms. Because we don’t really trust that students want to engage in our classrooms, we make sure any questions, answers or ideas are vetted through us; the instructors. The beautiful struggle that occurs when students are challenged with a new idea, or hear something from a peer they hadn’t ever considered, rarely occurs because of the implicit need to be in charge. Ultimately, almost every lesson is actually about power and control, rather than student learning, and the result is the teacher is in charge and the students are disengaged.
Yesterday, I thought about this classroom struggle for control when I began preparations to paint a bedroom. My wife is eight months pregnant with our second son, and we’re setting up the new baby’s bedroom. Now if you want instructional change to occur in your inner city high school, then I’m your guy to call. But I’m not who anyone would call if work needs to get done around the house. I try hard, but I’ll never be confused for a handyman or contractor. But painting is the one job around the house I really do well. I’ve painted every room, and I take pride in the task. So when my four year old and my wife said they wanted to paint with me, internally I balked. Out loud I said, “Sure, sounds great”, and then I began plotting ways to make sure they couldn’t help. I wanted to be in control and do it myself. My son was sure to paint the floor, and while my wife is perfectly capable, I just wanted to do it. But then I thought about the yarn, and I tried to imagine the benefits of us painting as a family… and I couldn’t come up with any. I wanted control. Every couple of months this happens to me. I have to look in the mirror and face the reality that I seem unwilling to make a choice that I ask teachers to make each and every day.
So I changed my painting preparations. I put more painters’ tape around the room than I ever would have before. I covered the entire floor with plastic, and taped it down so drips wouldn’t get on the rug, and I led us in a family painting cheer before we began. And you know what? It was great. Not only did we prime in half the time it would have taken me to do it myself, but we had so much fun. My son painted like a champion and followed every direction, and my wife, despite feeling huge, awkward, and uncomfortable, got to participate in the preparations for the baby’s arrival. I could tell that actively participating as something more than the incubator, meant so much to her. And the price was twenty extra minutes of preparation on my part.
There are so many necessary ingredients for good instruction to occur. But we often spend all our time focusing on materials, certifications, access to technology and class sizes. In inner city schools, our students enter our classrooms with so much baggage. For me the first day of school was and still is filled with the promise of incredible learning to come. For many of our students, the first day of school is filled with the promise of more frustration, disconnection and failures.
As leaders, we must model with our teachers the contract of trust, shared learning, and collaboration we want to see in classrooms across our schools. If we want teachers to give up control to their students, school leaders must create and live a culture where failure is not only accepted, but desired for learning to occur.
It’s easy to lose sight of our intended outcomes. I still want to hold the television remote, because I like to be in charge. And my wife, because she loves me, is willing to look past this character flaw. But when I considered painting the room, I lost sight of the goal. Because I’m busy, I thought of room painting as a task to check off the long To Do List. We do this in classrooms all the time. I need to get through the content, to get to the next piece of discrete content. But painting a bedroom, and teaching kids is so much more than checking off content or tasks from a checklist. We’re changing our family, and it is and will be a mess. My son is shifting from only child to older brother, and that’s going to take time. Our family routines and rituals will all dramatically change. In a classroom, learning done right is never clean, and it never happens quite the way you expect it to occur. There are drips all over the floor, it takes so long, and frankly it’s a mess.
Some teachers love the mess, and know inherently how to create this culture and climate in their classrooms. But not everyone does. As leaders, we set the tone. Speaking for myself, I can’t set a meaningful tone, if I’m not living my beliefs myself. This afternoon, we’ll have Family Painting Part II. It’s sure to be messy, and not exactly what I want, or how I want it. But the room will be beautiful in the end, and years from now, we’ll remember the process more than we remember the outcome.
Isn’t that what really matters?
Remote by kevinthoule
ball of yarn by chatirygirl
Paint by maury.mccown
Ingredients for dinner by Pingu1963
This piece is cross posted on Connected Principals
Thursday, February 10, 2011
When I was in high school and home for vacations during college, I used to sleep until noon, minimally. When I woke up, my father would tell me over and over, that I “missed the day!” When he was really feeling playful, he would come into my bedroom and pull off all my covers at once, yelling, “You’re missing the day, time to get up!” I never thought it was that funny, but his whole body shook with laughter, each and every time.
Today is the 4th anniversary of my father’s death. Harold Juli was an Anthropology professor at Connecticut College and the best teacher I’ve ever known. He was 59 years old when he died from an extremely rare form of cancer.
I think generally, when people find out they are dying, they want to do something, anything, just as long as it’s something new and different in their life; skydive, travel to Europe, or quit their jobs. Not my father. A few years before he became ill, my dad and I were talking about our jobs. He told me that this many years into his teaching career, he was still just as excited for the first day of school as he was the first day he ever taught. He said I must always love what I do, to have passion for my work. But it’s one thing to say that when healthy, and another thing entirely to live it when dying. When faced with his own death, all my Dad wanted to do was live the exact life he already had. No travel, no new adventure. Above all, he wanted to continue teaching. And he did, right up until the very week he entered the hospital for the final time.
My father never missed the day, not once, not ever. He woke up each and every morning, some time after five. He was always an early riser and at his desk on campus by 6:30 at the latest. I joked that as an Anthropology professor, he didn’t need to rush; everything he was studying had been dead for quite some time. But he was in such a hurry to get to work that he couldn’t afford to waste even a minute. He pre-tied all of his ties, so they were already knotted, and all he had to do was tighten them.
On my father’s deathbed, in the days before he lost consciousness, he was speaking with one of his many visitors, and someone asked him if he was angry. My father’s response was simple, and I will still consider it for many years to come. He said that he wasn’t angry at all. He said he knew who he was, regardless of his having terminal cancer. He was incredibly proud of his personal and professional accomplishments and cancer wasn’t taking any of them away. He said every day, whether sick or healthy, we must wake up, think about who we are, and what we have to accomplish that day. My father knew who he was. Cancer didn’t change who he was, at any time during his illness.
I think about knowing who I am and what I have to do all the time. And it’s why I’m writing this post. In my understanding of leadership and in my context, knowing who I am, and what I have to do today, is essential to doing my job well. On most days, from the moment I arrive at school, until I exit in the evening, the day is crazy. My colleagues and I joke that if we tried to pitch to a book publisher what happens in a regular day in our urban schools, no one would believe us. So I think it’s vital in the context of the daily craziness around here to know where we’re trying to go, and how we all fit into getting us there.
As leaders we have to know ourselves, and we have to know what we want our schools to become. If we can’t name it, clearly and articulately, how can our teachers imagine our future school with us? If our teachers aren’t invested in a collaborative vision of the future, how can we connect today to tomorrow and beyond with and for students?
In addition to being an Anthropology professor, my father was also an archaeologist. He didn’t do archaeology every semester, but I was fortunate to participate in several digs when I was old enough to know what was happening. Watching my father lead an excavation was like watching a beautiful piece of art come together. When I teach teachers, I work to help them develop real word applications to their course content. Digging with my father was an opportunity to see the past transformed into a relevant, hands-on curriculum.
He combined thoughtful research, hard work, organization, strong excavating techniques, technology, and humor on every dig. My leadership style is modeled after the way my father ran a dig. He made time to teach and learn every day. He organized the day, and ran the show, but made sure to spend meaningful time moving the dirt just like everyone else. He made decisions on the fly, and included everyone in his process, so we all knew why decisions were being made. And best of all, I got to watch him hold a dirt covered artifact in one hand and a turkey sandwich in the other. He’d lick the artifact as his own technique to date it, and then take a bite of the sandwich virtually all in one motion.
I know that teachers and leaders work incredibly hard everywhere. But the task here, in an urban district is so daunting. To make meaningful, purposeful, and visible change to benefit student learning in my district, I have to know who I am, and what I want to do today. I have to be able help others to envision themselves as actively engaged in defining and creating the schools we want to be. I remain just as excited and passionate about this work as I was my first day as a teacher in Jackson Heights NY. I know from my father that passion is one part of what I need to do this job well. But passion alone isn’t enough. Amidst the sadness of today, and the regular craziness of everyday, I have to know how to lead us forward. Sometimes it’s easy to say aloud, but it’s never easy to put real change into action.
So tomorrow, I don’t plan on missing the day. I’ll wake up early, either a little before or a little after my four year old son comes to visit us, and I’ll make the time to give some thought to who I am, and what I plan on accomplishing. Then, I’ll put one foot in front of the other, just as my father taught me. It’s the only way I know to make meaningful steps towards the change our students need.
Sunrise on Black Sea by tonigri
I’ve Reached the End of the World by Stuck In Customs
Walking Away by JosephB
Dig the Past Sarasota-11 by sokabs
This is cross posted on Connected Principals
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I always considered myself to be a struggling math student. I was either scared of my math teachers, or scared of the content, or I thought I understood what to do when I really didn’t. At Syracuse, when I was an undergrad, there was a Math or Foreign Language requirement, which made perfect sense to me, so I took Spanish. And I happily told people that, “I’m just not a math person.” The truth is, almost everyone accepts this statement as fact because they either feel the same way, or hear this statement from others regularly. With relative ease, I could put together a group of like-minded colleagues who also view themselves as Not Math People.
A few years ago, I was in a National Institute of School Leadership (NISL) session, for administrators in my district. The topic was Leadership in the Mathematics classroom. The instructor asked us directly who thought of themselves as math people and who did not? More than half the group, including me, raised their hands and defined ourselves as Not Math People. His second question was, “Who doesn’t think of themselves as a reading person?” No one raised their hand. Why is it socially acceptable and reasonable to think of ourselves as Not Math People, but it’s completely taboo, embarrassing and inappropriate to define ourselves as Not Reading People? The Not Math People I know carry their Not Math Peopleness as a badge of honor. But to define myself as Not a Reader, or uncomfortable with literacy, just isn’t okay.
This lesson struck a chord. In fact, I felt a little ashamed to have used the Not a Math Person vocabulary for so long. I’ve proudly defined myself professionally as a problem solver for quite some time. So now, when faced with math in my daily life, I try and view it as a problem to be solved. I’m not yet the mathematician I want to be, but I’m improving.
Now I regularly meet I’m No Good at Technology. I’m No Good at Technology is someone who is usually comfortable with a few Web1.0 tools. But anything beyond email, and Microsoft Word, and I’m No Good at Technology tells you it’s not their thing. Would I’m No Good at Technology find it acceptable to not be a reading person or a literacy person?
As a leader, I’m struggling with how to address this issue with my colleagues. I want to push gently, introduce tools one at a time, and build comfort and confidence with Social Media and Web2.0 tools in the classroom and with my administrative colleagues. But I also feel a sense of urgency. In my urban district, students drop out every month. We have to engage students where they are, and the truth is, even in high poverty areas, students are online. Furthermore, while schools may be measured by their standardized test scores, students, after graduation, are not. Out in the world, they are measured by their ability to create, collaborate, write, innovate, use technology and be successful in blended environments. We don’t have any more time to wait for I’m No Good at Technology to slowly feel more comfortable. I can set up Google docs at work, point teachers and administrators to specific blogs and posts to read, encourage teachers to use Diigo and Delicious, but I can’t make teachers and administrators use these tools, and forcing the culture to change on my terms isn’t what I’m looking to do.
That’s why John Carver’s tweet today struck such a chord with me. He sent out an article entitled Three Trends That Define the Future of Teaching and Learning, by Tina Bardeghian from Mindshift.org. The author framed three key trends in teaching and learning. Teaching and Learning is Collaborative, Tech-Powered and Blended. I like the article, and I like the terms because they are tangible terms with clear definitions for I’m No Good at Technology to grab onto. I won’t summarize the entire article, but like John Carver, I think it’s a must read.
Here’s what I think is most important for change to occur in my context. As a leader, I need to name the change I want to occur. Using the term technology isn’t getting us anywhere. In the same way the word math was intimidating for me, the term technology is a nameless, faceless behemoth that equals fear for some of the administrators and teachers in my district. If technology is the answer to every question, it’s not an answer at all. It’s just like highlighting every word on the page in the book. It’s no more useful than highlighting nothing.
One of the biggest challenges I faced when I left the classroom and entered administration was learning to work with teachers around what would work for them, and not what I would do in any given situation. My style, my way isn’t the right way. It’s just a way. I had a vast instructional toolbox to meet the needs of my students in my teaching style. I had to increase my toolbox to be able to support teachers in their own style of instruction. As I write this, I think I’m in a similar place now with tech tools. I’ve only been on twitter since July, and blogging for an even shorter time. I know how I am learning, and how I want to use Social Media and Web2.0 tools, but I haven’t yet expanded my toolbox enough to have an answer for all of I’m No Good at Technology’s questions to help them feel more comfortable and ready to meaningfully apply tech tools in the classroom.
Here’s what I do know. As a district, we need to rethink how teaching and learning is occurring and we need to be purposeful about the why of technology. To move forward, we need I’m No Good at Technology to engage in the conversation. We need to understand that in the same way it hasn’t been acceptable for me to be Not a Math Person, “technology” is a vital component of teaching and learning. But I have to practice how I speak about tools. I need to practice being more purposeful about why tools are relevant in the context of student learning. As a leader, I need to build a bridge between using Social Media, using Web2.0 tools and the skills students need to be successful in their future. I have to continue to build my own toolbox to speak about these issues more articulately so we can move forward as a district.
Is anyone else having a similar struggle? How are you handling these challenges?
Alan Guth Equations by opacity http://www.flickr.com/photos/opacity/4028771622/
Logo2.0 part 1 by Ludwig Gatzke http://www.flickr.com/photos/stabilo-boss/93136022/
Tool Operator by Chewey Hooey http://www.flickr.com/photos/jrvogt81/4264575563/
Bridge over Tara by daninho _ibk http://www.flickr.com/photos/52084241@N00/1878397461/
This post cross-posted on the Connected Principals blog
Saturday, February 5, 2011
This week, I read on the TeachPaperless Blog Shelly Blake-Plock’s post entitled "Example of a Paperless Exam". I’ve been reading TeachPaperless for more than a year, and it’s one of my favorite blogs. Shelly has inspired me to significantly decrease my paper usage, but the posts I like the most are the one’s in which he describes what he’s teaching and how he’s assessing learning. I love the exam he offers in this post. It’s a great example of using content to apply skills, rather than the exams I see all the time, which are only assessing content, usually through matching, short answer and fill-in the blanks.
For me this exam exemplifies what I want teaching and learning to become in my district, and it also shines a light on all that is difficult about teaching and learning in an urban district. I work on a campus of high schools. These aren’t schools within a school; they are six distinct high schools, with their own staff, students, leadership and themes. There are about 280 teachers combined across all six schools, and I’m responsible for overseeing curriculum and instruction across the campus. Essentially, I’m a principal without a school, and my responsibility is for teaching and learning. My office is on our campus, so I’m in classrooms, working with principals and connecting with students every day.
We have a few teachers who may want to give an exam like this one, but for most teachers it isn’t something they are considering at all. But it isn’t because they don’t care about kids, or they aren’t good teachers. The context of our school community is so important to understanding the challenges of teaching and learning in city schools. Our students come to us with so much baggage. When I entered high school, I was a sponge. I just wanted to learn everything. I had experienced, good, great and mediocre teachers, but my fundamental belief in school as a positive place was clearly embedded in my psyche.
The average student in my district has had a different experience. He/She reads 3-4 years below grade level. Most ninth graders entering our schools have not experienced success in school. The textbook has been too difficult for as long as they can remember. As Hispanic students, primarily from the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, they cannot find themselves in any of the curricula we teach. For the English Language Learners, school has been a confusing mix of academic vocabulary with multiple meanings, and lessons taught from the Speak English Louder School of instruction. A culture of low expectations permeates their school experiences. Students don’t think they’re going to be doctors and lawyers, they think they will be medical technicians and paralegals. Most will be the first in their family to graduate from high school; virtually all will be the first to attend college.
The Hidden Contract dominates decision-making in an urban school. In many schools, the implied contract between teacher and student is the following. You the teacher will agree to not challenge me, force me to work hard, embarrass me, or make me struggle, and I the student will not act out, disrupt the class, embarrass or challenge you in any way. This same contract exists between Principal and Teacher as well. If you the teacher do not disrupt my day, excessively ask for students to be removed from your class, push at what should and should not be taught, then I the principal will support your decisions, evaluate you positively and leave you alone. Essentially, between and among all parties;
you leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone.
I see these contracts in action every day; passive students, sitting in teacher-directed classrooms, answering lower order questions that challenge no one. Students without pencils or paper, teachers without challenging plans, and everyone surprised if a student, a teacher, or administrator wants or expects more from a class. I understand why classrooms are this way. Students are used to failing. They don’t know what success feels like, and failure is no longer scary or painful, it’s become the norm. Teachers want to connect students with whatever passion it is that brought them to the subject they teach, but they are faced with vast gaps in students’ content knowledge, and so called basic skills are so low. Additionally, the reality of poor standardized test scores causes incredible fear. Each teacher faces incredible pressure to teach to the test to give students the best opportunity to pass and earn their high school diploma.
It is in this reality that I view the great exam that Shelly Blake-Plock offered in his blog. How do we change almost everything about the way teaching and learning occurs to bring us to a place where that exam is the norm, rather than an exam offered in some other school with someone’s else’s kids? Do I show teachers this exam to give them a clear picture of where we want to go? Or, will showing this exam to teachers offer a stark reminder of the Grand Canyon between our schools and his?
Relentlessly attacking this hidden contract is where leadership begins in urban schools. As leaders, my colleagues and I have to grab hold of the hours teachers and students are with us, within our shared walls. Every year during the hype leading up to the Superbowl, I think of leading in an urban school. Coaches must find a way to get their players to ignore the hype. They must keep players away from all the opinions, facts, and beliefs about their team and the game ahead. A Superbowl coach must ensure the players hear his voice above the cacophony of the media and the fans.
It’s the same in an urban school. We must find a way to turn the state standardized test scores, the federal calls for turnaround schools, and the local media attacks into white noise for our teachers. We must protect them, nurture them, cheer for them and create a school where failing at student engagement is okay. Until teachers feel safe to fail at engaging their students, we cannot be successful. We must lead efforts to do the same with our students. Together with our teachers, we must create an environment for our students where their past failures and current struggles are irrelevant to the learning occurring in our classrooms. Teachers must be the eye of the storm in our students’ lives. Together, we must give name, shape, and form to the dreams of the better future our students have, but are afraid to say aloud. And once those dreams are named, we must offer a roadmap to achieving them.
We have so much to overcome. But speaking from my own experience, when urban students engage, when the classroom becomes a door to connecting with the world, and students for a moment, or a period, a week, or a semester, see options and choices in their future, it is a profoundly beautiful experience. Ensuring this occurs for all our students and not just those in one classroom is the challenge I love in the work we do.
If we could find a way to get groups of students to succeed on Shelly’s exam, we would hear the hidden contract of school breaking, like a thousand mirrors crashing to the ground. But to get there, from where we are today, is an incredibly long journey.
So I’m struggling this weekend. How do I use this example exam? I need a way to make it an encouraging discussion. We need teaches to leave the discussion feeling empowered, despite our context. We need to turn the discussion away from the abstract and to the concrete, so new and veteran teachers can feel empowered to shift away from content only classrooms. We need to move beyond drill and kill, to meaningfully connecting our students to the world, and engaging them. We need to give up the standard urban classroom relationship of teacher as all knowing and student as empty vessel to be filled. I see all this and more in this one exam example. But I need to make it accessible to our teachers, so I’m still thinking.
Bluebell Railway Luggage by Daves Portfolio
Our Direction by B Tal
32-pl by Zephyrance
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Yesterday’s afternoon #edchat asked the question “ Edcamps and TeachMeets are becoming a movement for professional development, is this a viable alternative to standard PD?
I logged on expecting to participate in a lively chat and the discussion was certainly lively; I just felt like I couldn’t participate, because the stream was so one-sided. I love #edchat. Patrick Larkin introduced me to twitter and #edchat in July, and I’ve used the weekly chat as my primary tool to grow my PLN, and practice tweeting. My colleagues might argue that I struggle to say anything in 1,400 characters; so making my point in 140 characters has been a steep learning curve.
Mostly, the chats are so engaging and I love the give and take between and among people I’ve never met. But every so often, the chats become teacher versus administrator. I think it’s unfortunate that we transfer this us/them mentality from our workplaces to being online. I don’t know why I think this, but it feels like offline baggage shouldn’t make it into our online spaces. But that isn’t what stopped me from engaging either. This time I felt the teacher/administrator divide, but I also felt the urban versus suburban district divide.
Chat participants overwhelmingly spoke in favor of Edcamps and TeachMeets as a viable alternative to standard PD. Here’s my struggle. I don’t buy the either/or construct of the question, and I feel like the word “standard” is code for boring.
Bad Professional Development is horrific, and I have sat through way too much of it. I particularly loathe when I have to role-play as a child in a classroom. Why can’t someone teach me about instruction or leadership without forcing me to act like a child in class? Can’t I be me, as an adult, and still learn? There’s no question that a principal, district administrator, or outside consultant leading a one-shot session is a waste of time. But that’s not how I view professional development.
First off, I don’t buy into the term professional development. I plan and lead sessions monthly, and I don’t have any idea how to develop anyone. What I know how to do is teach, and encourage learning, and introduce new ideas, and create a safe environment for discussion and sharing. So I lead professional learning sessions, not development sessions.
My urban district values professional learning. New teachers have three full days of learning in August, and all staff have two more days together before students return. Then we have ten Wednesday’s, (one a month), when students have early dismissal and teachers stay ninety minutes beyond the regular day for school-based learning. Combine those fifteen days with weekly team meetings, collaborative planning time and monthly faculty meetings, and a school leader can and should put together a coherent yearlong plan to meaningfully move his/her school forward.
I love the passion, the enthusiasm, the autonomy, the sharing and the collaborating that an edcamp offers. We need all of that in urban professional learning sessions, but not without a coherent vision of school improvement to move teaching and learning forward for student achievement.
Here’s a few selections from yesterday’s #edchat:
Edcamp/TeachMeet is grass-roots PD. Teachers sharing their passions & knowledge w/ each other. #edchat
It is logical that the most productive PD would be created, developed, and run by the teachers who need it. #edchat
Traditional PD is fine when you have a message that everyone in your school just needs to hear. But how often is that? #edchat
Traditional PD can be replaced by the edcamp model at any school - find educators interested in sharing and learning = good to go! #edchat
Other participants wrote about autonomy and choice of sessions, and letting teachers do what they want because they will choose what’s right for their learning and their students’ learning. I don’t doubt that all this is true in the #edchat participants’ schools. But it isn’t true at the secondary level in my urban district. Let me be clear, the leaders I work with, including me, need to do a better job of structuring and leading professional learning sessions. What I know about edcamps/teachmeets, and what I learned reading the #edchat made it clear that so much is positive about the model. I work with principals who treat each of our professional learning sessions as a one and done session, with no coherence from month to month. This must change. But I also work with teachers who cross their arms at each session and scream with their body language, “I dare you to engage me.” We also have so many first, second, and third year teachers. They are learning their content and trying to build relationships with their students, while struggling to navigate the challenges of an urban school day. To expect them to lead sessions and know how we need to move forward isn’t realistic. Any new teacher rides a roller coaster in those first few years, but this is especially true for new urban teachers.
Our schools are skewered in the local media for having low standardized test scores. Teachers feel incredible pressure to teach only basic skills and prepare students for the test. The result is content focused classes with little or no connection to students’ lives or our changing world. In this context, we need incredibly strong principals and teacher-leaders to develop a yearlong coherent professional learning plan to move the school forward. We need to use monthly professional learning sessions to drive the agenda forward, to imagine our schools as better than they are today. And then we must use collaborative planning time, prep time, and team meetings to engage, support, and teach, so every teacher shares in the task of moving the school forward by applying what’s being discussed in professional learning.
I plan on attending Edcamp Boston in May, and I hope anyone reading this will attend also. We need Edcamps to inspire and engage and connect us with current and future members of our PLN. But I’ll bring back what I learn and apply it within the context of the coherent professional learning plan my colleagues and I have developed for our district. One teacher having a phenomenal Edcamp experience and applying new ideas to his/her classroom is wonderful. But it isn’t enough in my district.
I want to figure out a way to bring the Google 20% thinking into my district. I want us to have teacher developed sessions that engage adults across our schools. I want conversations to inspire, and ideas to grow. But the status quo of our schools is unacceptable. We’re better than we used to be, but we’re not where we need to be. So for now, strong leaders have to use professional learning to drive the agenda. Professional Learning must set a path to move student achievement beyond improving test scores and create a roadmap to change the status quo of urban schools.
I didn’t know how to say all this in 140 characters in #edchat yesterday. And I’m not sure I’m saying it well now. So here’s another attempt:
Edcamp style is amazing-in urban district we 1st need nonstandard sustainable pl 2 change T Bliefs and expectations for S success #edchat
On his face a map of the world by Riana Raucci
The Dragon Roller Coaster, Ocean Park by the wamphyri