For years now, in schools I’ve heard people claiming that this new thing or that old thing is no good because it doesn’t prepare students for the real world.
Since it seems to be such an enormous motivator for people, I’d like to come clean and ask for help in understanding what this real world is. You’d assume I would know. After all, I’ve lived and traveled all over the world, fished offshore for lobster and started multiple businesses, and have communications on most continents. Am I in the real world? I don’t know!
But I do know a couple things. This real world, which sounds fictional to me, is always invoked by people who are fearful of change. They often see education as a system where we process kids through reliably and achieve standardized, reliable results. Controlling everything possible is admittedly comforting.
In 2003, Orchard Gardens Pilot School in Massachusetts, nearly 100 percent black and Hispanic, opened its doors with a posse of security guards to ensure the campus was under tight controls. (read more…)
Last month, I received the great honor of being recognized by Education Week magazine and the U.S. Department of Education as a 2013 Leader to Learn From. It was a tremendous honor to receive special recognition from Assistant Secretary of Education Deb Delisle and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The other 15 leaders receiving the recognition came from all around the country, and the type of school systems represented was very diverse.
It was great to connect with these other educational leaders in the short amount of time we had together in Washington, D.C. We are making sure to continue to stay connected to learn from each other as we all recognize the variety of strengths we bring to the table. However, this got me thinking: if you’re a connected educator, a lifelong learner, striving to constantly be better no matter by what means, you are a leader to learn from. (read more…)
Response to intervention (RTI) is most often associated with structures in schools. However, we believe that structures, while perhaps complex and new, will not prove to be overwhelming in the end. Fundamentally, we view RTI as organized, systematic passion with the socially just goal of all students graduating prepared for college or a skilled career. It’s culture, nurturing and sustaining passion, that will challenge us in the critical work of RTI. What do we mean by culture?
A positive school culture is rich in trust and respect; there is recognition that collaborative processes are foundational. New initiatives are not repeatedly and haphazardly begun; depth is valued over breadth. All students are valued and expected to make significant gains in learning. Factors that may inhibit gains are viewed as temporary obstacles that will be overcome and challenges that will be met. All staff accept responsibility for all students — students in other classrooms, students in other grade levels, students with disabilities, students who speak another language at home. (read more…)
A couple of days ago, I got into one of those short-ish yet interesting Twitter back and forths with a few folks in my network. In a nutshell, it revolved around the mindset we need to bring to our discussions about change in schools. Here it is Storyfied if you want to check it out.
It got me wondering (once again) how stuck we are in effecting real change because of our inability to get out of our own experience, to leave history behind and really think with “a beginner’s mind” about where we go next. And how hard it is to approach those discussions with the humility of not knowing.
We may be in the midst of the most rapid, radical change in education history. Learning is exploding outside classroom walls as the world becomes more connected and networked. The shift is real; we see it playing out in just about every long-standing institution in our lives, in media, business, politics and more. (read more…)
This post begins in a place that’s far away from, well, just about everything. We’re traveling to place called Zuni Pueblo in northern New Mexico. Zuni is miles away from McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and many other corporate flagships that permeate our society. For example, it’s a 45-minute drive down a one-lane road just to find a grocery store.
After arriving at this remote destination, I decided some exercise was in order. I popped on my bike shoes and headed to the Zuni Wellness Center for a biking class. The studio was about half full, and most people were already on their exercise bikes when I arrived. Within moments, a tanned, inked instructor with a long black braid entered the room. He told everyone to “Get ready!” and started blasting music.
He played “Gangnam Style.” Yes, “Gangnam Style.”
Everyone in the room cheered in response, and the class was instantly in motion. I was stunned that this tiny germ of an idea had touched such a remote place. (read more…)