I feel the need for my first blog post to address the issue of what is actually needed for this whole education reform movement that is percolating but still stuck in this "talk" phase. Where are the education protests as we saw in Wisconsin when teacher's rights were being minimized...they need to be at the door of Arne Duncan for the long duration such as the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Long story short here are my key points and IDEAS that need to be our focus when we do begin the "transformation" phase of this reform.
1. The Student Voice needs to be a part of the conversation.
2. Expectations need to be raised for ALL. From the top administrators, teachers, students, and PARENTS. No more tenure - create a new system with the teacher unions that help retain the most influential teachers. Also the college prep curriculum should begin in middle school and by high school all classes should be AP worthy. Raise the bar.
3. Cut the politics - this is our future we're playing with. The bureaucratic mess limits the potential for so many. This ties into #4.
4. Less Standards, More Autonomy - creating a enjoyable learning environment where students are passionate about understanding the world. The pressure of standardized tests creates cheating as we saw in Georgia (Atlantas-testing-scandal)
and as I have seen first hand as a teacher. Plus standards limits the growth of the individual child as they are forced into the required box of curriculum.
1. As we reform, let's set ourselves up for the long term - go beyond this new age of social media and technology. Set up schools to begin infiltrating mobile learning into their daily schedules. Schools need to become learning centers, not factories where we produce defective products of society. Bring the community into the learning centers, bring the LEARNING into the community.
2. If you haven't already, start building your PLN (Personal Learning Network). www.edupln.ning.com The day of collaborating with the teacher down the hallway is over, begin discussing and creating and exploring new methods with educators around the world. From Twitter to SKype to Facebook to LinkedIN....then further with the amazing EdCamp unconferences and TEDtalks. Create a global network for you and for our students. Follow me and my PLN on twitter @coleeverett
3. Bring back the Science Fair. We complain about innovation being at a standstill, what happened to the science fairs - I'm talking ones that you couldn't wait for because of the hype and prestige that came with them. Spelling Bees have gotten more national coverage lately but is your school participating? What about cooking competitions, that great stock market game out there teaching students all about dividends and math - is your school in on this?
4. Stop spoon-feeding students the process - let them figure it out on their own, allow them to discover...they just might be more engaged. Create real world applications, community-based problems they need to solve. Allow them to voice their plans, opinions, ideas beyond the classroom walls. Create an expectation that they matter now, and they can impact the world now.
5. Above all, we have to believe reform is possible. We have to believe in our students and that they can be successful. We have to generate a belief within our students - In class tomorrow have your students share something they LOVE about themselves. Stop the negativity and cynicism that has created a systemic problem of educating kids and begin the positive PR campaign. We are doing amazing things, some schools are at the top of their game, students are incredible in areas they are passionate about. "YOU DON'T BECOME WHAT YOU WANT, YOU BECOME WHAT YOU BELIEVE."
I will also suggest this article: http://gettingsmart.com/blog/2011/09/10-things-i-do-right-now-as-a-superintendent/
Tomorrow: The Maze of the Century Story