Tuesday, September 21, 2010

School Reform

The buzz on twitter yesterday was the Oprah show on education in America. What a heavy burden she has to carry, to know more about everything than everyone else in the world, must be a daunting task. I haven't watched it don't know if I will but we are in a reform movement with our schools.

Me being an old dog in this profession have seen many reforms come and go. We are a fad generated profession, however, what is happening now is not a fad its a fact and its not going away. Remember this people are not opposed to change, they are opposed to being changed. This must occur since we continue to talk about 21st century skills and we are decade into it and we are still talking. Glad to see in some places and with a growing number of educators change will occur.

My "smack in the face" moment with technology came when the high school I was principal of went 1:1. Suddenly there was a role reversal, the students were teaching the teachers and the teachers were learning from our students. It was a true learning environment for everyone, at that point, I knew change was upon us and fortunately I had a staff and student body that embraced the change.

I did learn that force feeding was the only way to get some staff members to jump on the band wagon. No longer was "we've never done it like that before" (a phrase I hate as well as thinking outside the box) going to be acceptable, and I learned that people would accept the technology when they had to. We used staff to bring other staff members along and we must realize not everyone will be on the same page.

Being a superintendent now of a rural district, in which many students don't have access at home, it is even more important that we expose them at school to the information and tools that are at their fingertips. It will take some force feeding and that is what we are doing as a leadership team, and we are to the point of refusing to allow the status quo. We have to sell our staff on this is best for kids because these are tools they will be using and we can't short sale them on their education. I know its been said its not about the computers, its about the learning, true, but we are still a people business and its about kids and their best interests.

You young educators give us a little time and compare what is happening now to the old days. When I was young, most girls kept a diary, now its called blogging. We passed notes, now they text. We had pinball now they are video games. The closer you can compare what used to go on, to what is happening now, the connection will occur. I had a board member tell me there was no cheating until there were cell phones, I can't speak for everyone but in 1969, in Howard, Kansas, I know a person that became a superintendent that did, at times resort to a cheat sheet.

We are fighting the good fight and no matter how much resistance we receive, keep fighting. This is the most exciting time I've experienced in education and my only regret I'm on the downside of my career.

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