After each atrocity in our schools, dialogue about “increasing school safety” is heightened. The focus is usually on implementing a variety of new controls and punishments. Do our students feel safer if they have passed through a metal detector? Do they feel safer if there are policies and procedures in place about weapons? Do they feel safer if there are anti-bullying policies in their schools? I don’t believe these measures do much to increase a real feeling of safety.
What we need is a shared understanding of safe school culture and the knowledge of how to create the culture that makes our students feel truly safe and ready to learn.
As principal of a large, inner-city, multicultural school in Ottawa, Canada, I led a team of dedicated teachers and educational support staff in creating a school where everyone felt safe and cared for, where everyone was engaged and empowered to become the best they could be, where bullying was almost non-existent, where students wanted to come to school and behavioral issues were at a minimum. (read more…)
This week, I attended another international education conference — the first annual Nassau Educational Technology Conference (NET.1). It was the first of its kind to be held in the Bahamas. There were over 200 educators from the Bahamas and several other surrounding island nations. Often, as American educators, we are faced with the day-to-day problems of our own system and are unaware of the challenges and real obstacles faced by other countries as they also strive to educate their youth. Many of the things that we take for granted are almost non-existent in other countries.
Poverty in any country seems to be the biggest obstacle to a proper education, but the problems of poverty in a poor country seem to compound the issues almost beyond solution. There was an evident commonality, however, that could be found in the passion for education in the hearts of all of the educators in attendance. (read more…)
As a teacher, you can see it right away.
The excitement on the faces of students. A whole classroom of laptops, lids raised. The expectation that the learning experience can and will be different.
Seeing this, what would be the first question that you would ask?
It can be anything. But make sure it’s good.
Adding devices into a school is potentially one of the most disruptive things that can be done to the educational climate of a school. A classroom with devices is a different place, capable of a different learning dynamic, capable of a different conversation about how students learn, and capable of developing new types of relationships between teachers and students. So, that first question is critical.
What is the first question you would ask? What would you want to know?
I have a pretty good idea of what the first question is.
I’m betting that most would want to know about how the device works with things they already do. (read more…)
Over the last four years, states and school districts across America have embraced an enormous set of urgent challenges with real courage: raising standards to prepare young people to compete in the global economy, developing new assessments, rebuilding accountability systems to meet the needs of each state and better serve at-risk students, and adopting new systems of support and evaluation for teachers and principals. Meeting this historic set of challenges all at once asks more of everybody, and it’s a tribute to the quality of educators, leaders, and elected officials across this country that so many have stepped up.
One crucial change has been the state-led effort to voluntarily raise standards. That effort dates back to 2006, when a bipartisan core of leaders — governors, state superintendents, business people — came together because they recognized that America’s students needed to be prepared to compete in a global economy that demanded more than basic skills. (read more…)
I recently had the incredible opportunity to work with more than 150 10th-graders representing their schools at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference in Rochester, N.Y. This was my third year of participation in the regional conference, and I always leave impressed with the potential of these soon-to-be leaders.
In the past, I’ve spoken to the students about where information lives and social responsibility on the Internet. This year, I asked them to think about what being a leader means and asked them to create a collaborative manifesto of their vision of leadership in the 21st century.
I asked them first, in groups, to identify adjectives that describe their vision of a great leader. Then, I asked them to create a “We Believe” statement. Collaboratively, through group discussion, they created this leadership manifesto.
We are the future leaders.
Determination. Integrity. Charisma.
We believe that leaders are made, not born.
We believe that communication is key. (read more…)