Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Too Many Cooks Ruin the Soup...

As I posted last week, there are a tremendous number things that are being asked of education today (  The reasons for their implementation vary as much as the initiatives themselves: best for kids, research based best practices, Race to The Top, Publishing & Testing companies, compliance with state and federal mandates, creation of a culture of fear (make people prove they are good), etc.  What I had asked in my post was is it possible to implement them with true fidelity under the current industrial model of education that most of us operate under? 

Thanks to the effects of Hurricane Sandy I had time to catch up on some reading.  I divided my time between two: Shift Ed: A Call to Action for Transforming K-12 Education by David Houle & Jeff Cobb and (while I had the internet) a nice synopsis posted by Mike King of Michael Fullan’s “Choosing the Wrong Drivers for Whole System Reform” ( ).

The following are a few excerpts that resonated within the context of the original question:

“If scarcity creates value, then information in and of itself is rapidly becoming worthless. We must now move beyond information to find real value. For institutions that have largely been purveyors of information-and our schools certainly fall into this camp- making this change rapidly and successfully is fundamental to survival” (Houle & Cobb 41)

“Now that change is environmental, it is essential to not build upon and update the present educational system but to leap ahead into the future and create something of and for the future.” (Houle & Cobb 42)

“Intrinsic motivation, instructional improvement, teamwork, and ‘allness’ are the crucial elements for whole system reform.” (Fullan)

“Effective drivers are those
• that cause whole system improvements;
• that are measurable in practice and results; and
• for which a case can be made that strategy X produces result Y.

An ineffective driver, however, is one that
• actually does not produce the results it seeks;
• may make matters worse; and
• can never have the impact it purports to produce.  (Fullan)

Looking at the list from the original post, many of the individual initiatives/programs/methods/changes have the potential to be effective drivers of reform (although maybe not as systemic as Fullan’s focus).  However, given that there is so much pressure to implement all the items, at the same time, this turns them all into ineffective drivers (With so many variables, how do you know which X produces Y?).  Even worse is the cultural impact of how "change" comes to be viewed.  Instead of being a challenge that is embraced and focused on (intrinsic), change is equated with something to be avoided, or something that can't possibly be done ("Have you seen all the stuff they think we should do?").  The over-saturation of initiatives has poisoned countless meaningful initiatives into being labeled the dreaded “just one more thing”.  Too often, too many changes, too many times, have resulted in us changing nothing.  Ruined soup for all...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Can 1:1 Prevent Snow Days???

While I am not an advocate for shortening the school year, as we hunker down and prepare for Hurricane Sandy, I am curious if schools/districts that are 1:1 are able to bypass snow days/make up days?

With tools such as Google+, Facetime, Google docs, content geared to flipped & blended classrooms, project based classrooms, etc. it seems like make-up days due to short term school closings (1 day) & where electricity is not the issue, could be made to go the way of the Dodo.

Does anyone know of any states or schools that have moved in this direction?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is it even possible...

Is it possible to implement with fidelity:

Response to Intervention- RtI, personalized learning environments, Common Core State Standards- CCSS, professional content standards, the new educator evaluation system (complete with self-reflection, Student Learning Objectives-SLOs, Professional Growth Goals, Observations and Conferences), 1:1 or Bring Your Own Device- BYOD initiatives, Differentiated Instruction-DI, digital content, online learning, project based classrooms, advisory, guaranteed and viable curriculum, traditional & standards based report cards, Professional Learning Communities- PLCs,  Positive Behavioral Intervention Strategies- PBIS, flipped classrooms, blended classrooms, meaningful & ongoing professional development, interim assessments, common comprehensive assessments- CCAs, portfolio reviews, school wide rubrics, IEPs, 504s, dropout prevention programs, formative & summative assessments, common tasks, 330 minimum minutes of direct instruction a day (RI), multiple pathways, progress monitoring, state tests, Advanced Placement- AP exams, PSAT/SAT/ACTs, Senior Project... (plus many others that I am sure I have left off)

all the while working within the current structure (industrialization model) of schools?

However, if we start with a structure that, as Chris Lehmann spoke of at ISTE LF 2012, is based on student/teacher engagement in work that both groups find relevant, how many things in the list above occur organically and do not fall into the dreaded "one more thing" category?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Inspired by ISTE- Entering the Blogging World

In spite of the numerous recommendations from respected educational leaders everywhere to start blogging, I have resisted.  However given my experiences over the past few days at ISTE Leadership Forum 2012, it is time to start.  Given that some of my take aways from the conference are:

  • Leaders must lead by example & be willing to share their journeys - especially with technology
  • That the Technology Plan is the Education Plan
  • To increase student engagement we need to, in the words of Chris Lehmann "Make kids do important stuff. Then have them share it."
Add the above to the benefits that I have personally gained by following educator's blogs such as Patrick Larkin and George Kulowiec, I have run out of excuses.

So here we go.  Stay tuned...