This is an exciting time in public education in America and in Illinois. We are at a crucial crossroads in terms of accountability, funding, structure, pensions, research, 19th to 21st Century foundation, public vs. private, Ed reformers vs. Ed Transformers, digital revolution, etc. In our school district, we are in the middle of an impressive, provocative, and impactful change/transformation in middle level education as well as PK-8 education overall.
Last year the school district implemented a multi-million dollar air quality and air conditioning project that at the end of the summer, improved the quality at all six schools for all 3100 students PK-8. This year we welcomed in a new era of science/STEM labs and this coming summer we will add to our multi-million dollar transformative learning environment projectsin support of student learning in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, as well as continued growth in our 1:1 Transformative Learning Environments.
In the years to come we will embark on strategic planning and transformative planning for the elementary schools,as well as an overhaul of curriculum, instruction, and assessment – initiatives currently in progress at various levels. Our charge as school leaders is great insofar as we are responsible to a public who understands education through their own lenses or the lenses of their child or children – this view is often myopic at best. We are also responsible to a public who benefits from the quality of the schools but no longer participates in the school system (children grown up), we are also responsible to a Board of lay people who may or may not have understanding of how children learn or how teachers teach, we are also responsible to professional educators who grow and learn in direct relationship to how the district is led and managed, and finally, we are responsible to students – in real time – who have but one opportunity to experience all that we have to offer!
As leaders we implement transformative programs like 1:1 initiatives to see how in fact learning can and will change as a direct result of intense and focused professional development, teacher support, and technology infusion into the learning environment. We also make decisions regarding programs in place for students that are no longer relevant and replace them with more relevant programming (i.e. SmartLabs in CMA and STEM). We also must learn from the research about teaching and learning and change our system to reflect what actually works – even if it is not understood or immediately supported by our public, see http://growthmindseteaz.org/johnhattie.html.
One of the many leaders who I read, follow, learn from, is Sir Ken Robinson. I have shared Sir Ken Robinson’s wisdom<a title=”Changing Educational Paradigms” href=”/2013/10/26/changing-educational-paradigms/” target=”_blank”> before in this blog</a> – he is an advocate for educational system transformation. He is a compelling speaker in my opinion, and I share this video (20 minutes) from a Ted talk posted in May 2013, as of today, the clip has 3,124,157 Views. I hope you enjoy his commentary and his ideas about our most important work – educating children!