Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Challenge Accepted: We Have to Stop Pretending!

In an effort to become a more connected educator, I began utilizing Twitter as a tool for professional development in 2012.  Over the past 12 months, I've accelerated my use of Twitter and have drastically expanded my professional learning network.  This has been a fun and rewarding learning opportunity, as I am now able to learn with other professionals across the globe.

I was recently challenged by Dr. Chris Longo ( @DrChrisLongo ) to participate in an effort called, "We have to stop pretending."  This challenge asks educators to identify five things we need to stop pretending about the way we see education for all students.

In an effort to improve all schools for all students, here is my list of five things I feel we need to stop pretending:

  1. Professional development must be determined/dictated/planned/delivered by people other than teachers.  What I've found is the most valuable professional development which led to sustained improvement in practice was delivered by teachers to teachers.  It's easy, inexpensive, meaningful, and actually improves schools.
  2. We are currently engaging all families.  We know our kids will do better if families and schools partner in new and creative ways, however, many schools are still reaching out to families similarly to ways they've done ten years prior.  As a school principal, I am continually looking for better ways to engage our families and would love to hear what other schools are doing to develop stronger partnerships leading to increased student achievement and the development of stronger relationships.  Better yet - I'd love to hear from families what can be done to allow them more opportunities to feel invested in their child's school and learning. #letslearntogether
  3. PD three days in August, one day in November, and another half-day or two during the year is really professional development.  I feel the shift needs to focus on professionals (our teachers and administrators) owning their own learning, advocating for time to work collaboratively, and embedding this work into their daily routine.  For example, teachers or administrators engaging in social media for learning, attending EdCamps, or collaboration with colleagues leads to daily growth.  This to me is what causes professionals to truly develop.
  4. We are ready, meaning we all have the requisite skills to truly prepare kids for 21st century learning.  In order for our students to be connected learners they must see frequent modeling by the adults around them.  Using technology for learning, communication, collaboration, and project creation is one way to begin to model the 21st century skills we want our students to develop.  In order for all staff to develop this, they need appropriate and ongoing professional development.  This ties in to #3 above - in that we can't wait for district required or mandated professional development.  Our sense of urgency to improve should be dictated by the kids who sit in our classes every day.
  5. We begin closing gaps when kids arrive in kindergarten.  I used to think that our kids were not our responsibility until they entered school for the first time and I now realize that we need to partner with families, community agencies, doctors' offices, churches, and any other venues which have family ties.  Our ownership for our students begins the day they are born.  How we act upon that ownership will determine the strength of individual partnerships - which in turn determines the strength of each child's school readiness.  If we can articulate a shared vision and support all families in accomplishing that vision - we will reduce the opportunity for gaps in achievement, development, or vocabulary before they begin.

I have passed this same challenge along to the following outstanding educators:
Jeff Veal   @heffrey 
Bethany Hill @bethhill2829
Rachel Murat @APGovME 
Kory Graham @tritonkory
Ben Kitslaar @Ben_educating

So these are the five things I believe we as educators need to openly discuss in our schools and districts.  As we identify exactly where we 'really' are in terms of our adult actions around these five areas, we are better suited to set measurable goals for improvement.  It's been fun to see how my thoughts and feelings about education have shifted pretty dramatically over the past two years.  I thank the folks I work with each day as well as those I learn with through my professional learning network.  Let me know what you think or consider sharing your own list on Twitter using #makeschooldifferent . 

1 comment:

  1. #1 reflects a basic lack of trust in teachers by administrators and is the root of most PD evils. Thanks for calling this out, David.

    Great list. Thanks for participating!