Month: October 2014

For Your Consideration

For better or worse, I attend a lot of workshops, conferences, and other professional learning opportunities.  Some of these I attend by my own volition, others as part of my job responsibilities.

As a fan/organizer/participant of the EdCamp model, I lean toward an active, meaningful, and engaging form of adult learning. After recently attending a three hour workshop, and a full day workshop days later, I noted some differences in my own learning, engagement, and openness to what was being brought forward by the presenters. Based on my reflections following these workshops, I submit the following statements for the consideration of presenters.

I don’t listen to strangers – I need to know who you are if you want me to believe what you are saying. What’s your name?  Your background? I need to know you have the training, background, and experiences to substantiate what you are going to say.  If you are talking about school site management, I need to know that you were once a principal.

I am literate – Don’t put up text heavy slides and proceed to read to me.  An arbitrary rule to follow: don’t have more than 140 characters on any slide. Meaningful pictures or icons would be nice, too.

I share – Share your resources in a way that let’s me easily share them with my colleagues. The days of the printed PowerPoint with three lines for me to write notes are over. Give me an electronic version with notes and resources that I can go back and share with my colleagues.

I need to move – If I have been sitting and listening to you for more than twenty minutes without moving or talking, you can pretty much count on me being elsewhere (mentally, that is). Just because I am an adult doesn’t mean I should be forced to sit and get for too long.  It’s poor teaching whether the learners are 5 or 50.

Cite your sources – If you throw around data or quotes, please cite their origin.  If you say that 20% of students are bullied, I’d like to know where that statistic came from. Otherwise, that data ends with me, because I wont share uncited data.

While these may seem basic or simple, they are necessary based on my recent experiences.

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The Decision Pipeline

I’m finding a disconnect between the desired pace of change, and the time it actually takes to envision, plan, and put a vision into action.  The length of time it takes for a major shift in instruction to take place far outpaces the patience of the public and some leaders.  The implementation gap is a well documented aspect of the change process.  Unfortunately, most people ignore this phenomenon and expect to see immediate results.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a monumental shift in the way that we teach and learn. The foundation of these new changes is technology. Ubiquitous, inexpensive, online, collaborative, and adaptive technologies.

“Our 4th graders will need to type an entire page in one sitting! We need a typing program!”
“We need access to digital video content. We need a subscription!”
“We don’t have enough devices!”
I could go on.

While all of these things in and of themselves are not huge projects, they take time to do correctly. Furthermore, none of these decisions are made in a vacuum. The time it takes to make these decisions and purchases must compete with the everyday work of the tech and curriculum departments.

As a school or district leader, how do you manage the message of change? What are the ways we keep stakeholders (staff, board members, parents, students) informed about our progress?