This past weekend, I worked with Steve Hargadon of Classroom 2.0 at an educational conference in Jacksonville, Fla.
In the car on the way to the conference recently, Steve and I were discussing the “institution” of school and the “system” of school. The largest part of our conversation centered around the fact that we have, collectively as a nation, created a massive operation for educating children that does not work.
The “institution” is the bureaucratic, policy side of public education that demands that “each get some.” The “system” is the mechanism for delivering the “some” to all. The good ideas that created the system and thus the institution around it are lost in the shuffle. Doing what’s best for kids and doing what’s fair for all have each become a separate megalopolis each on a separate continent.
Education has become so institutionalized that the act of “doing” something equates to readiness for the next checked off item on the “to do” list of instructional practice. (read more…)
This following post is an adapted version of Tim Kanold’s 2013 commencement address at Loyola University Chicago.
It’s May. You are wrapping up one season of your professional life. And, to paraphrase Robert Quinn, you are “building your legacy bridge as you walk on it.” Before you know it, you are six, 11 or 18 seasons into establishing the foundation and impact of your life’s work.
And then there comes this strange day when you do not get to open up your boxes for another season. The cycle of seasons for you will be over. The boxes will stay closed. There will be no going back. No rewind button. You reflect and ask, “How did I do? What have I given those who are staying to remember me by? Does my work, my career even matter?”
I suggest four high-impact pursuits — every season, every day, for the rest of your career. (read more…)
Great teaching can change a child’s life. That kind of teaching is a remarkable combination of things: art, science, inspiration, talent, gift, and — always — incredibly hard work. It requires relationship building, subject expertise and a deep understanding of the craft. Our celebrated athletes and performers have nothing on our best teachers.
But, in honoring teachers, I think Teacher Appreciation Week needs an update. Don’t get me wrong — teachers have earned every bagel breakfast, celebratory bulletin board, gift card and thank-you note. Given the importance of their work and the challenges they face, teachers absolutely deserve every form of appreciation their communities can muster.
But we need to do something a bit more substantive and lasting than the bagel breakfast, too.
Complex as teaching has been over the years, it’s more so now — in part because of reforms my administration has promoted. The reasons for these changes are clear. (read more…)
It is a well-established fact that American public schools have not changed very much in the past 100 years. School buildings still look pretty much the same, we have retained an educational calendar that was largely designed to serve the needs of a past agrarian society, and teacher-centered lessons are still the predominant mode of instructional delivery.
What is perhaps most disappointing is that while a variety of recent historical developments such as advances in brain (learning) research, the widespread availability of mobile technologies, and a newly emerging global economy are redefining expectations for student learning across our nation, public education as an institution continues to look to its past successes for solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow.
For example, how often do we hear or read about the re-emergence of the great tracking debate or whether or not class size is a true obstacle to student achievement? Similarly, will we continue worry about how often students should experience cooperative learning during a six-day cycle? (read more…)
Around this time last year, I received what I thought was an odd request. Juliana Meehan, a teacher from a neighboring district, contacted me and asked whether I would agree to mentor her as part of her training to become an administrator as part of the NJ EXCEL program. Now at that time, my plate was extremely full and, as a result, I was very reluctant to take on this additional responsibility. My tune quickly changed when Julie explained that she requested me specifically because she was so inspired by the Edscape Conference as well as the transformation currently taking place at New Milford High School. I agreed to act as her mentor.
During our first meeting, Julie explained to me what my responsibilities were as a mentor. She then informed me that one to the primary components of the internship was to develop a project requiring leadership that would affect students at the school level. (read more…)