Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A pocket of EXCELLENCE . . .

John’s comment to my previous post on our influence on evaluation is another affirmation of the work that we are doing. He shares his experience at a conference with Dr. William Daggett as a featured speaker. In his presentation, Dr. Daggett talks about what young people need to know and be able to do for success in post high school learning and work. He also shared that our state’s reputation around the country related to change is not very positive.

He also stated that Washington State is one of the worst states in the country for change. According to Daggett, we as a state are known in the national education debate as being more focused on what we used to do than where we need to go.

John later introduced himself to Dr. Daggett and shared our Classroom 10 journey. Dr. Daggett replied that he had heard of us and that there are “pockets of excellence” in the state. Wow, a pocket of excellence. We can add to this to the seventeen people who are part of an online Habits of Mind Class initiated by the Institute for Habits of Mind with Art Costa and Bena Kallick. We have been chosen to be the only pilot district in the country for this work because of our focus on the habits, Nancy's work with the Institute, and our willingness to embrace new learning and change.

John goes on to share:

I asked myself why it is that we are a “pocket” in the midst of stagnation. The ability that we have to work collaboratively together on the Classroom 10 initiative, on evaluation, and on innovation make our district special, worthy of leading our state in true reform. The key is collaboration; without it we stagnate and fail in our attempts to improve the quality of education for our students.

Yes, collaboration is one of the foundations for success and collaboration requires a knowledge and skill set necessary to support the many skillful conversations. We are developing this capacity through our teacher leadership institute where we are also revisiting the need to balance high demand with high support, another need spoken to in John’s comment. Focused, caring, safe, and reflective environments are necessary for teachers to engage in collaborative efforts to support change in classrooms. This is something that many districts and change agents fail to see as a necessary component of change that increases achievement for all students and that sustains over time.

There are many indicators from within and without the district that support our focus and reinforce our reputation as a quality place for learning both for students and for adults. John, thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts about why our school system is a special place for learning and work.

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