Change is Good

Yesterday I resigned from position at the CMSCE at Rutgers University.

Today I listened to Dr. Punya Mishra keynote at  TechForum NY. Dr. Mishra’s presentation reminded me how important it is to publish and share. He spoke of how it’s not the technology, or the device, it’s the teaching methodologies that help students meet their objectives. Though I already knew this, it was refreshing today to hear it and see the nodding heads in the room.

What do I want to do?

My plan is to continue working with educators, administrators and students on 21st Century skills. What do I mean by that? Dr. Mishra said it well, when he said we need to prepare students for the technology of five years from now. We should not be spending precious instructional time on tools as technology should not be taught in isolation. We should combine pedagogy, content and technology in authentic ways.

This is the challenge I face as I join Mike Searson and Janis Jensen at the  School for Global Education and Innovation at Kean University on November 7, 2011. I’m looking forward to this very much. I will miss my colleagues at Rutgers as change is hard. On November 7, I will start my day with the phrase “BRING IT ON!” as change is good.

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Whatever Works – Don’t Fight It!

A middle school teacher that I worked with last year said “whatever works, don’t fight it” when we would talk about all the different things we tried in our classes.   She was referring to how she was engaging her students. Willing to try just about anything, she maintained throughout the year that she was going to keep doing what was working for her.

Because what I was doing wasn’t working, I’ve revamped the plans for one district. The thing is, I wasn’t being effective. It wasn’t bringing on change or improvement. The teachers involved needed something different. It’s difficult to stop something that you were convinced is going to work and to go at it from another angle.

Whatever works, don’t fight it

So, where did this new plan come from? If you look back at my post after Educon, you’ll see that I am thinking that sharing stories is a fantastic way to bring improvement to our classrooms. In order to make this list, I listened to stories from and read and studied information from Kern Kelley, Helen Barrett, the collective wisdom of http://1to1schools.net/ and countless articles and pieces of research.

Here’s the new plan as it stands now (subject to change):

  1. It’s not a tech initiative, it’s a learning initiative
  2. Digital Portfolios (using Google Sites)
  3. Managing the 1:1 Classroom
  4. Starting a student leadership team in grades 5-8
  5. Sharing success stories with colleagues
  6. Parent/Community training and showcases

The thing is though, that this new set of objectives may still not bring on enough improvement and discussion to satisfy the participants. Part of me feels like there isn’t anything wrong with trying to help and ultimately not making a change,  and part of me feels extremely concerned. Each teacher and group of students is unique. How would you cope / deal / discuss / decide what your next step was?

1.       It’s not a tech initiative, it’s a learning initiative

2.       Digital Portfolios using Google Sites

3.       *Managing the 1:1 Classroom  –

4.       Starting a student leadership team in grades 5-8

5.     Sharing success stories with colleagues

6.     Parent/Community training and showcases

5 Changes To Education Meme

Image Source: http://www.medicalpracticetrends.com
Image Source: http://www.medicalpracticetrends.com

I have been tagged by Beth Knittle for this meme. TJ Shay began this meme with the following rules.

List FIVE changes you would like to see in the educational system.  Your responses should represent your perspective and your passion for learning and students.  If you have been tagged, tag as many people as you choose, but try for a variety.

This is the first semester in many years that I am not taking a graduate class in the evenings. I decided to take a break so that I would have more time with my family and to devote to the astonishing amount of professional development offered through the folks in my PLN via distance. Last semester, as I sat in a room without wi-fi listening to the class discussions, I found myself really feeling like I could spend my time more wisely participating in EdTechTalk events, the DEN or ISTE in Second Life or even some of the impromptu gatherings that happen via UStream or Skype. I just wanted to make sure that I was putting myself in an environment where I could learn.

One thing that stuck with me from one of my recent classes in supervision was that when you go into a school or a district as a new administrator, you should not make immediate change. You should observe and learn the culture before you can make decisions as to what would make improvements.

So, though a part of me wants to make changes in education, the other part of me knows that these things take time, and I’ll keep working towards making improvements within the districts that I have come to know the culture and populations of. The teachers that I work with know that I believe in “taking baby steps” and that things take time.

Here is my list. There are a few that are a bit more achievable, but I can dream big, right?

1.  I would like teachers to view themselves as professionals so that the portion of the population that doesn’t, that sees teachers as working from 9 to 3 and having summers off, will know how much we are devoted to our profession. There are so many devoted educators that put in countless hours to improve teaching and learning in their classroom and to make sure that they meet the needs of their students. Let this be known.

2.  I would like all educators to see the positive in each and every student. I know it’s difficult, but they are all someone’s child and they all need love, understanding and sometimes extra assistance or compassion.

3.  I would like students to play a larger role in the writing of curriculum. If we give our students more opportunities to take ownership of their education, then maybe there will be more success stories. Students need to invest in their futures as well and this is one way for them to do so.

4.  I would ask that administrators find the needs in a district before taking on an initiative to fix something. There is always more than one way to look at something. Let’s make sure we are addressing the right issues before determining what we think are the right solutions.

5.  I would like all teachers to “be teachable“. Mandated professional development is not always the way to go. Educators, and people in general have to WANT to learn in order to truly learn. I would love it if all teachers were open to trying new things, open to doing what they already do well – more, and willing to share resources. How do we accomplish this? Well, I do believe that enthusiasm is contagious…

If you are reading this post, you most likely have thought about this list of 5 things to improve in education. Perhaps you’ve even implemented changes to make these improvements. I’d be curious to know what other things you are looking to change. I therefor tag the following bloggers, but anyone is welcome to leave a comment or post the meme on their site.

Clif Mims

Chris Craft

Cheryl Oakes

Liz Davis

Bud Hunt