Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Are we making the RIGHT choices?

I don't know how many of you have seen this Seattle PI article from earlier this month, but I think it is important for us to consider as we "open up" our schools. I was reminded of it yesterday in a Technology R & D meeting when we were discussing the many ways that young people could bring in content that would not make it through our filters. There simply isn't any way to keep that from happening.

Are we wrong? Are the fears of the professors in the article enough to preclude the use of this technology in our classrooms? What are we not considering that other public school systems have, who then made the decision not to"open up" their classrooms? You and I can come up with many more similar questions, but at the end of the day I come to the same conclusion; we must move in this direction. My belief comes from my reading, from my interactions with colleagues, from my conversations with young people limited though they might be, from my observations and experiences, and from somewhere in my gut that tells me we must.

What about you? How committed are you to this change knowing the problems we will encounter with potential inappropriate content, cheating, theft, and the list goes on? It might be easier to stick with the "real basics" and leave this up to the kids. After all, they are doing a pretty good job without us. Any thoughts?

Well, enough for now. have a great day!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fullan: "Learning Is the Work"

I want to share with you a post from Leader Talk, introducing a new book by Fullan that identifies six secrets to successful change. The secrets are both confirming and troubling for me because I can see where our work is aligned and where more emphasis may be necessary. I am particularly interested in the concept of the learning is the work (4).

In the post she shares what Fullan identifies as the difference between superficial and strong PLC's. If interested you can read about this difference in the post as well as a reference to the work of Richard Elmore and Jim Collins, two other leadership experts I enjoy reading.

I will get Fullan's new book and share what I learn.

Six Secrets of Change
1. love your employees as well as your customers
2. connect peers with purpose
3. capacity building (building capacity in others -- support, guidance, encouragement) trumps judgmentalism
4. learning is the work
5. transparency rules
6. systems learn

As I reflect on this post it again makes me think about the balance of new learning for me. I continue to focus on leadership because it is what I do and because of my belief in the need to distribute it for our work to be successful. I am also trying to become more knowledgeable and proficient with personal use of technology and embedding it into our curriculum and instructional practices. My third area of focus has become Classroom 10 and the many questions I have about my capacity to identify quality instruction aligned with this concept and support administrator and teacher implementation over time. There isn't time left for much more, but I am energized with the many learning opportunities I have each day.

Well, enough for now. Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This Stuff Feels Good

Well, I received four responses to my last post about my public presentation, three comments and one separate e-mail. Good information that helped me frame what I decided to show and say. It went ok, I only had one planted question the rest were from people who attended to gain the information.

I have had two of you share with me how powerful the blog on Inbox Zero has been for them. They have reached this milestone in a short period of time. They describe the feelings they have of being released and more in control of their time because of this change. Dawn and Kimberly are the two that have shared. You may want to ask them how they did it. Anyone else out there trying?

I am at 8 or fewer each evening before leaving for home. I could get to zero, but I am not feeling any urgency to achieve this goal.

I need to leave to attend a King County hearing on changes to the Comprehensive Plan. I will be reading a letter from the board sharing our concerns with the potential impacts of development in the "donut hole" part of Maple Valley.

Enough for now, have a great day!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Perils of Volunteering for a Panel

I find myself in need of some help. I have been asked to sit on a panel making a presentation to community members about the Millennial Generation kid and education. I have ten minutes! What would you say in this short period of time that captured today's kid and how that influences what we do?

The majority of time has been set aside for questions and the planning team has identified a set to prompt the audience. Eight questions have been identified for me. They include:
  • It seems as if trends or movements can influence education services in an attempt to respond to whatever is coming down the "pike" in the media, economy, or political speak. Is embracing technology and all that it has to offer just another knee jerk reaction?
  • What basics need to stay in education?
  • What can we count on over the years as mainstays?
  • How can educators provide a meaningful and relevant experience (aka incorporate instructional technology into instructional practice when exposing students to the realities of the work world) while also keeping students accountable to WASL standards?
  • Can inappropriate information on My Space sabotage a college application and/or employment?
  • What are the potential dangers for embracing technology in the classroom? Do youth generally feel safe on-line? If not, do they feel they have recourse to address a threatening or harassing cyber-environment?
  • They say that technology gets cheaper as time passes, but don't we incur more expense by buying more gadgets?
  • Does the school district really need everything it buys or is it just attempting to keep up with the bells and whistles.

Wow, reads like a set up to me. Any thoughts as I think about how to escape this potential mine field?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Working Today: But What About Tomorrow

It has been awhile since I last published so a lot of "stuff" is rattling around in this little brain of mine. I continue to be focused on and frustrated by the changes we need to consider if we are to make our schools places where kids and adults want to be. What does this mean beyond bringing gadgets used outside of school into the school house?

Some of the things that I am beginning to know are important for this significant shift from my reading, conversations, and reflections include:

  • Knowledge is changing in this new world where anyone with access can influence what it is and how it is used.

  • In this world we must find ways for kids to own the learning, to create the contexts for acquiring and using knowledge in ways meaningful to them.

  • Teachers must become comfortable with owning their own learning with technology in and outside the classroom. It can not continue to be a sit and get, they must experiment with it and discover how it can enhance their personal and professional lives. They must be able to add value to inservice learning by teaching themselves.

  • We must teach our kids how to teach themselves so that they can successfully adapt to an exponential world of change. This requires metacognition and sharing our own learning strategies. This works best when we are not the expert, when we are in an authentic learning situation like I find myself in with VISTA, blogs, wikis, and the list goes on.

  • We are approaching a time when kids will not tolerate sit and get. There are too many options in place and around the corner to actively engage with and control their learning.

  • We must engage our parents like we have not been able to do in the past. They must understand and support change if we are to continue with stable funding at the local level and if they are to be true partners in their children's learning.

What priority should I and we be giving these thoughts as we struggle to identify and implement aligned curriculum, common assessments, and Classroom 10? For me, it has become one of my highest priorities because I believe that we must change our environments as we consider what a Classroom 10 looks and sounds like. The stakes are too high to ignore. How to create this focus given all that we are doing and are expected to do and how to allocate resources for this effort has become the thing that keeps me awake. How to support shifts in our thinking and decision making that don't feel like demand without support is the struggle that I encounter almost daily.

Enough for now, have a great day!