Shift and Reflection

   Our @edfocus group wrapped up our book share on John Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction Wednesday night. I always enjoy our discussions and this one did not disappoint [@MrBernia gives some great insight into the book]. I’m appreciative of the discussions and challenging viewpoints of the group. Its these kinds of experiences and on-going pd that help grow educators.

   There were several striking points that night, our talks included topics from standards based assessments to treatment of kids. My big take away was on the need to be a change agent.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been active learning from some great people over the years on the need to be an agent of change – you can’t follow groups like #edchat, #cpchat, #edadmin and #edfocus and not commit to change! Last night’s discussion, however added another component. Gatto focuses on the detrimental effect that our unchanging beliefs and practices  toward teaching has had on learning. Part of our talk centered on some things we can do to make schools more about learning than teaching, transformative measures in classrooms and school.

   As I was reading the book and participating in the discussion, I realized that one area I need to improve is educating my community on the changes we need to make in our school and in education in general. My staff are a major stakeholder group but are not the only group.  This conversation made me do some reflecting on the job I’ve done communicating to my parents and community. My main concern is about how I have/am communicating several points:

  • What does 21st teaching and learning look like? What do we mean when we say we are preparing kids for their world?
  • What is problem based learning? Standards based assessments?
  • Why is integrating technology a critical component in what we do?
  • What are PLCs and how are they integral to our school?
  • How different are learning experiences between parents and students? How are our expectations different?

  This chat gave me two realizations. First, I will always need to work on my power to influence and communicate [this needs to be course work for new administration]. Second, and probably the most important, I need to dedicate regular and concerted efforts to communicate where education and our school, need to go and it needs to be done in a way that the community can understand. My yearly presentation to families is not enough to convey the tremendous work involved in shifting our focus. When I think of all the pd we schedule for staff, all the talks and planning that goes into supporting teachers, its easy to realize one or two talks to stakeholders to share similar, relevant information won’t be enough.

  Fortunately, we have great tools to help us along the way. We can archive presentations, make information dazzle, stay current on research and connect with great people. I am committing to do my part, imagine if each of us had these impactful change discussions in our communities and made people understand the real need, we will be the change we want to see.

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