Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. ~ Will Rogers
I am on Spring vacation for two weeks (one benefit of a year round schedule). Whew. A much-needed opportunity to relax, reflect and plan. I am finishing up the first week of my break by attending the Computer Using Educator’s (CUE) conference in Palm Springs. Conferences are a great way to network, share ideas and collaboratively problem solve, but after the first few days of CUE, I am left with more questions than answers. There were certainly some thought-provoking presentations…I am leaving sessions inspired by what I have heard, but convinced that we are not doing enough. On the right track, but…
What they say is true, talk is cheap (a certain degree of sarcasm intended). Implementing systemic, school-wide change is not easy – especially in a system as set in its ways as education. However, I could spend eternity offering up excuses and obstacles to change, but if I do that, I am – as Will Roger’s would say – sitting on the tracks.
A significant part of the problem lies with me. As a school administrator, I expect my teachers to advocate for their students, but I share that responsibility when it comes to program design and the pedagogical direction of our school. I have an obligation to be decisive, and take appropriate risks regarding decisions that will benefit my students, my staff and my school community. Although I do not directly work with kids as a classroom teacher, I realize that, perhaps, my most important role is that of an advocate – developing a school that values individualized learning, collaboration, creativity and difference making. I recently re-read this post on Recoding the Classroom and I am more determined than ever to affect positive change (love the idea of minimally invasive education).
As a point of departure on this journey, I have developed the following non-negotiables for change at our school. They are specific to our site, a rough draft, and listed in no particular order.
- The value and potential of every student will be recognized and acknowledged (even those who cause issues or give the impression that they would rather be elsewhere). #studentcentered
- Our school culture will be one of connectivity — an environment of trust/respect, where every person is valued and involved. #connections
- Our staff will be knowledgeable of the individual academic, social and emotional needs of EVERY student (we will know our kids). #individualization
- Data will be utilized, frequently and consistently, to guide instruction and ensure that we are focused on the individual student (used to personalize, not de-humanize – not data driven, but data aware). #dataconcious
- Students will have frequent opportunities for exploration, creativity, innovation, and collaboration. #skillset
- We will re-examine the physical environment of our school and classrooms and ensure that they facilitate, and enhance, student engagement in the learning process. #environment
- We will provide students with access to technology – in the classroom and beyond. #technology
- Our students will participate in purposeful projects with authentic audiences, emphasizing a culture of empathy and difference making. #differencemaking
- Our staff members will commit to modeling collaboration, innovation and creativity. They will stay current on best practices in education and develop a personal learning network. #profdev
- The welfare of our students will be the primary consideration with every decision we make. #wholechild
My next step will be to spend a little time reviewing, and if possible consolidating. I plan on spending time identifying the next steps for moving each non-negotiable forward. At that time…enough talk…time for action.
Please feel free to suggest successful strategies you have implemented at your school to move in this direction. I welcome your comments and I’ll keep you posted on progress.