Thanks to fellow blogger and school leader Dr. Robert Dillon, I ran across this Ted Talks video once again. The message resonates loudly in my mind as I wrestle with the concepts of my current reads – Michael Fullan’s book Motion Leadership and his recent article illustrating new research on drivers of whole system reform in education. Like it or not, it is indeed a time of major change in economics, technology and how we do education. It is a time requiring courageous leadership that is grounded deeply in our core mission while also focused on creating a culture of innovation and personalization. Leadership today demands being able to capture the realities of financial cuts and shifting national/state priorities as golden opportunities to tighten up our work. This short presentation speaks to leading such changes and creating a culture of understanding, buy-in, and synergy.
Up for the challenge?
This Ted Talks video caught my attention today as I was preparing for a presentation to our local Rotary organization. I ran acrossed it on the Future of Education blog in a post called “Collective Impact.” The premise of the presentation lines up with the concepts outlined in the 2020 Forcast and the development of networked learning grids that provide students with many learning opportunities within the greater community. It’s a fascinating take on how public education may be on the move out of brick and mortar buildings and into the communities we serve… Read more
Thanks to fellow administrator and blogger / high school director Dave Meister, I ran across this RSA Animate presentation called "Changing Education Paradigms." It happens to line up beautifully with a meeting I had recently in which I was told that several teachers in ISD 191 did not like what I had to say in a recent post called "Our Future Experts of Standing in Line." In response to that feedback, I'd like to offer this intriguing animate video and a couple of thoughts:
First… I believe every one of us in education heads to work each day seeking to do what is right for kids. Put simply - we are all on the same team. We all believe in the importance of education and we all work extremely hard to deliver on that calling. This isn't about who is right and who is wrong – it's about getting real about how to best deliver on our mission. That is something we should all be able to rally for collaboratively.
Second – delivering on our mission with excellence requires creating a "Culture of Greatness" in ISD 191. This means creating an environment in which rigorous debate about what is right is valued and cultivated, an environment in which disciplined people practice disciplined thought and action, and an environment in which the brand of our organization is palpable in every classroom of every building. If raising a few questions about the realities of 2010 is not ok, then we certainly don't have an environment that welcomes good debate. So… rather than take shots, please jump in and join the discussions! I certainly don't have all of the answers about how to best deliver on our mission – but I believe the staff in 191 has them if we put our heads together!! Handling some shots is part of this job, but I am more interested in what you all think about how to move forward. Your wisdom is needed and valued so please jump in!
This educator is committed to improving public education. That does NOT assume those in public education have done something wrong or are bad people. In fact, I have chosen this career largely because of the wonderful people in public education. Most are heros to particular individual students… If others can have rigorous debate about how to make money, politics, how to sell more product, etc… we can certainly have thick enough skin to debate about how to best deliver on the important job of educating children. We simply cannot afford to avoid this debate – it's kids at stake here…
Please watch this animate and offer your thoughts as a comment to this post. Times have changed and we need to respond… yes WE. We are public education… Teachers, EAs, clerical staff, administrators, bus drivers, cooks, custodians, etc… Together we will - we must – come up with the best answers. What are your thoughts? How should we be changing what we do to best deliver on the mission of preparing students for the 21st century??
Thanks to a recent post from George Couros, a member of my online PLN, I was introduced to this TED Talks video focused on the impact of online video on economics, human behavior, improving the global community and yes, education. It prompts some great questions about the possibility of filming great lessons to post online, posting clips of student work, unleashing the learning process into Web 2.0 instead of restricting it to what the teacher says, fine tuning lessons as PLCs view clips of each other and other teachers around the world, etc… What an exciting time to be a leader in education!!
As George says on his blog "The Principal of Change," it is well worth the 19 minutes…
I recently participated in discussions and decisions about placing networked LCD projectors in every classroom in a nearby school district. The new buildings in the district had projectors in every classroom while only a small percentage of the classrooms in the older buildings had projectors. The differences between buildings came up in many “why don’t we have what they have” conversations among parents, staff, and community members resulting in pressure from several fronts to “create more equity” among buildings. Ultimately it was decided to move forward with the upgrade across the district. Similarly, I am now starting a job in a different district and learning about the installation of smart boards in many classrooms with funding from several revenue sources. These decisions and situations beg the question: “What are the right reasons to expend significant resources on technology?”
My appreciation for the work of Jim Collins in Good to Great is no secret. Collins would argue that school leaders must be crystal clear about their mission and be strong enough to say “no” to opportunities that pull resources away from delivering on that mission. Sometimes technology is that very distracter. Collins would also say, however, that technology sometimes serves as an accelerator of an organization delivering on their mission. To rephrase Collins’ thoughts, technology use in education must serve as an accelerator for accomplishing our mission – student learning.
The thought that technology by itself increases student learning is shallow at best. The vast majority of technology use in classrooms that I have observed over the past 10 years includes projecting Power Point slides, showing movies, projecting graphs or problems on to a white board (and using the white board marker to illustrate in John Madden fashion), and a few incidents of projecting internet sites valuable to a particular topic. Looking past the fancy colors and larger screen, nearly all of those teaching strategies could be accomplished with similar effectiveness (in terms of student learning) with an overhead and a television. How does this accelerate student learning…? It doesn’t.
Technology or no technology, good teaching is good teaching. Effective instruction engages all learners, is focused like a laser beam on specific, measurable, and well communicated objectives, and is designed to challenge students to think independently, complimented with an overlay of meta-cognitive reflection processes. To use some Daggett/McNulty language, effective teachers use quadrant A content as a vehicle for challenging students to complete quadrant D work. It’s both rigorous AND relevant. It’s differentiated for individual learners tapping multiple resources to get to the same end. Students are observed working in groups, debating, asking questions, brainstorming, and ultimately, creating new knowledge. So the real tech integration question is… What technologies are accelerators of these behaviors?
Technology integration that accelerates student learning facilitates meaningful student reflection, student creation of knowledge, student writing, student participation, and relevant student interaction. It differentiates for learner needs and sometimes delivers the practice of skills necessary for demonstrating mastery of clearly articulated objectives. Sometimes, excellent technology integration includes teacher or student use of technologies to streamline necessary “class systems” such as handing in work, taking attendance, or giving meaningful feedback. Most important however, is using the technology to increase student thinking, reflecting, and participation.
So what technologies have you used or witnessed in action that accelerate student learning? What web 2.0 tools or activities truly help teachers engage students in reflection, writing, synthesizing data points, and creating knowledge?
Happy Leadership Day 2010!
So this one caught my attention. I support the guy and have percieved him to be an advocate of education and of 21st century literacy. The lesson – sound bites taken out of context kill the real message. I agree with Obama that authentic, productive discourse is crucial to the success of democracy but I also believe that 21st century technologies may actually improve that level of discourse in America. What do you think?
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Is anyone other than New York Schools piloting something like this? Seems like it is individualized, focused on standards, performance base, 21st century focused, etc… Might this be a look into what's ahead?
Check out this Vimeo site for New York City Teacher Development to learn more!