I’m so happy to see all the posts on social media from principals who are joining classroom discussions between teachers and their classes. It’s heartening to see that this crisis isn’t keeping school leaders from carrying out what I think is one of the true joys of school administration and that is classroom walk thrus and visitations. Over the years, my thinking and approach to classroom walk thrus have evolved and changed so much to now I consider it one of my best ways to build relationships with teachers and to connect with learners.
After my time as a middle school math teacher, I was a curriculum support teacher for a couple of years. Here my support included frequent classroom visits and coaching/growth/help conversations with teachers. That experience helped ground me as an assistant principal and principal. Instead of seeing it as an obligation, I embrace EVERY visit to the classroom as an opportunity to have a conversation that will help learners and teachers.
Growing teacher efficacy, improving instructional delivery ensuring learners are getting what they need are what we are all about and informal/walk-thru are a critical part of making that happen. But most importantly, we can see for ourselves, with our own eyes, in most cases, that the most important student needs are being met. As we are checking on instructional design and delivery, we can have conversations with learners that let us sleep at night. Now that more teachers are able to have video chats with their classes, principals and assistant principals can adjust thinking and practice to make sure that not only is learning maximized but that everyone is also taken care of.
Those of us who help schools with pedagogy shifts that include technology integration firmly live by the mantra that its ‘pedagogy before technology’ – well these days it has to be ‘kids before pedagogy.’
And don’t limit this to joining digital chats teachers are having with their classes. If you were a principal to join random tables at lunch or strike up conversations with groups in the hallway, find a way to create some group chats now. Learners need us.
The opportunity from this crisis is to rethink the conversation – nothing will ever be more important.
I can’t thank Dave enough for his generous invitation to be interviewed for his podcast, The Lasting Learning. Dave is one of those phenomenal, high-energy leaders who bring out the best in those around him and he made this talk a great experience.
I really appreciate him for asking me to share my journey and also to talk about our book The Revolution and our efforts to change mindsets and skillsets to serve the needs of our learners. We can all be the Revolution@ries our learners deserve. Below is a link to the YouTube video of our talk. The actual podcast will be be released in some weeks so please listen out.
Please take some time to listen to our conversation. You can connect with me here and I’m sharing his information below:
Twitter and Instagram @daveschmittou
Bold Humility: https://t.co/MOE0sRWL9N
This past week I had the pleasure of connecting and sharing with the Somerville ISD and Snook ISD in Texas!
I want to thank them for rolling out a very warm reception and allowing me to give the opening year talk on how we can make a difference for our learners. Of course, part of the message was about how we can be the Revolution@ries our learners need by abandoning some of the one-room schoolhouse practices and systems we guard so intently and sometimes unintentionally.
After the presentation, I had a chance to talk to Supt Karla Sparks. She’s fairly new to the position but has been an administrator in the district for almost 10 years. Its always inspiring to hear stories from educators – their backgrounds, philosophies and motivations to work in our field. Karla had a great story to share about a recent trip to a national park. She and her husband were on a hike and came across this breath-taking waterfall. As they got closer they saw that some other hikers swimming and having a the time of their lives [who couldn’t]. It became a mission of theirs to have this once in a lifetime experience but learned that this was not an easy task because this was no path down – this waterfall was only for admiration. To enjoy this experience like the other hikers, she and her husband had to make the decision to take a journey. They know others had done it so it was possible, but it was unknown and unconventional.
Her story about making the decision to go and the work to get to this unique spot is a great metaphor for change in schools and exemplifies several #revoltLAP lessons:
Be ready to take that leap and embrace that good work.
Education is like most professions, full of good people with good intentions and strong desires to be productive and effective. For most professionals, this means finding things that work and ways to replicate success. After all, we all want to be successful and enjoy that feeling over and over.
But what does success look like? What does it mean for us teaching multiple learners with multiple needs?
We wrote ‘The Revolution’ as a call to reflect on what we do and why we do it and then – most importantly, make some changes. Are we looking for what the learners in front of us need or what we want or what we deem is best for them?
Its hard work and often harder realization to understand to come to grips with the fact that most of what we do in school is geared towards adults behaviors not learner needs. To bring that change towards learner needs requires more than just a shift or small changes sometimes, it requires real change, real action, real planning – a Real Revolution!
Some Indicators You Need a Revolution:
We got into this for the noble, worthy cause of making a difference, not to replicate what has [or hasn’t] always worked well. Embracing that level of risk and challenge is the real work of Revolution@ries!
I’m happy to share that after almost two years, ‘The Revolution: Its Time to Empower Change in Our Schools’ is finally here. My co-author Darren [@dellwein] published it under the Teacher Like a Pirate, #tlap, banner and we couldn’t be happier with support and love we’ve been given.
When we started out on this, we had a mission to change what we do at the middle school level – how we think about [and treat] middle schoolers, how we set up middle school and, truly, what we believe. But we got deep into the work and began having more conversations and the collaboration with PLN members became real, we realized that this message and purpose was broader – BUT don’t get it wrong, we still have a strong message for revolutionizing middle school!
We don’t want you to see this as just a book – its a resource to help change mindsets about learners and redefining our roles. We put together chapters filled with what we are doing in our schools, stories of wonderful stories from our friends who are leading revolutions in their schools. These are the chapters and major themes you can look forward to:
– Chapter 1: The True Revolution@ries
– Chapter 2: Add Some Revolution to Your Mindset
– Chapter 3: Revolution@ry Learning Spaces
– Chapter 4: Revolution@ry Cultures
– Chapter 5: Revolution@ry Connections
– Chapter 6: Revolution@ry Innovations
– Chapter 7: Create a Maker Revolution
– Chapter 8: Empowering Learners to be Revolution@ries
– Chapter 9: Revolution@ry Leaders
– Chapter 10: Revolution@ry Learning
If you are,
– wondering what the difference between student and learner
– ready to shift your role
– exploring the connection between learning spaces and learning
– ready to bring the world to your learners
– ready to embrace and involve learner voice
– bringing in the maker-mindset
its time to start your Revolution!
We’d like to thank all our friends and PLN members who contributed to The Revolution. This book is proof that the best things about what we do, we do together! We create and build and dream together and, most importantly, we help realize real, learner-centered change together.
Thank you for your commitment to making a difference in the lives of learners. Let’s start having conversations that will change what we do/believe to benefit the learners we serve
This might be news to some but for several close friends and colleagues, its not news to say that after several glorious years in North Carolina
I’m happy to announce I’m joining Grady County Schools. This is actually a couple of months late in announcing but it’s always on time to share mementos news. Some great celebrations for the move:
I started my teaching career in GA and it has always had a deeply special place in my heart. I am truly turning cartwheels to come back home. But my time in NC was beyond profound and special. I was a great educator when I left GA but I am a next level learner after my 13 years in NC. The mentors and friends I’ve met there will always be considered friends and have a permanent place in my heart. To say I wouldn’t be the person or educator/learner I am today if it had not been for #nced and #ncadmin would be a gross understatement and would be the
So I’m happy to join #gaed.
I’m happy to dive deep into a PLN back home and meet inspiring educators who are making a difference. I’m happy to see where
School leaders have a lot on their plates – there are things that just have to get done. Everything that has to be done is about making sure people are safe, have what they need and being nurtured/supported/pushed to do better.
The managerial tasks are part of the job but that doesn’t mean we can’t see them as an opportunity to be the leaders and changers our schools need.
Principals, grade/dept level chairs, assistant principals, instructional coaches, classroom teachers – all #leadlearners have this opportunity to see beyond the immediate task to be checked off at the end of the day and really make what has to be done worthwhile for the students and community we all serve.