The key challenges facing school district leaders charged with improving the quality of their schools is creating the demand and will for systemic change, and then creating the capacity to faithfully execute that change. That was the message emphasized by Mike Miles at the latest Hot Lunch speaker series put on by the Donnell-Kay Foundation. Miles is the [...]
PODCAST: The founder of 4.0 Schools talks about the importance of taking risks on a small scale in order to figure out what works when it comes to education reform.
The Broad Center’s Becca Bracy Knight discusses the center’s work developing talent to run school systems in this season’s final Hot Lunch podcast.
This article was written by Michael J. Petrilli, executive vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He spoke at the Feb. 10 “Hot Lunch” event in Denver.
Education reform does not suffer from lack of energy or activity. Everywhere you look—Congress, state legislatures, local school boards, wherever—scores of eager-beavers are filing bills, proposing solutions, calling for change, and otherwise trying to “push the ball forward.” Yet for all the effort, for all the pain, we see little gain. What gives?
The conventional answer, in most reform circles, comes down to: “The opposition of special interests.” Teachers unions, school administrators, colleges of education, textbook publishers, and other defenders (and beneficiaries) of the status quo fight change at every step and guard their selfish prerogatives jealously.
That may all be true, but our challenges are much more fundamental. It’s not that the wrong people are in charge. It’s that there are so many cooks in the education kitchen that nobody is really in charge. And that is a consequence of an antiquated governance structure that practically forces all those cooks to enter and remain in the kitchen.
We bow to the mantra of “local control” yet, in fact, nearly every major decision affecting the education of our children is shaped (and misshaped) by at least four separate levels of governance: Washington, the state capitol, the local district, and the individual school building itself.
Jeff Piontek is an author, keynote speaker and teacher. He has worked with many at-risk school districts nationally as a consultant on affecting educational change and reform. He spoke in Denver Jan. 20 as part of the Hot Lunch speaker series.
We live in a time of extraordinary, exponential, and disruptive change. Society as we know it is being disrupted by the force of new technologies, the forces of revolution, the undermining power of commoditization and the displacing power of disintermediation. Economic upheavals are not only coming with greater regularity, they are deeper and they last longer.
All in all, it is disruptive change of the first order with the promise of more to come. Do not stand by and wait for the gold watch. It is scary yet so empowering for those who will embrace the change. You are the sharp end of the spear; you are on the front lines of change. Being anything less is the fast track to irrelevance.
To avoid being irrelevant, you have to grow – and fast! The belief that what you did in the past will be enough to allow you to succeed now is the most dangerous belief to have. It isn’t going to be enough. It’s time to grow, or else. You have to try on new beliefs and replace your old limiting beliefs. Clinging to the past won’t help you. Let go. Unlearn your learned helplessness.
You are going to have to develop greater leadership, management, and change management skill sets. You are also going to have to believe that your current future depends on your adaptability, as Charles Darwin stated so eloquently
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
Therefore, your resourcefulness, your resiliency, and your ability to adopt new beliefs and new skill sets will ultimately decide your fate.
Our country is abuzz with talk about 21st century learning. We chatter about global competition and the need for innovation. We bemoan the shortage of a well-prepared work force and cry out for systems to more equitably serve all students. Yet when it comes to the design of educational facilities, we are stuck in a time-warp. If he awoke today, Rip Van Winkle would probably recognize our schools. We can do better. We must.
There is plenty of research to guide robust school designs. The National Research Council (How People Learn, 2002) says we learn best through: 1) active, inquiry-based learning experiences that foster curiosity; 2) in-depth projects through which we make application and find relevance; and 3) performance assessment where we exhibit evidence of our skills and show what we know. But we don’t need rocket scientists to tell us that.
Design schools for people. Better yet, ask students. One 16-year-old nailed it. “No one wants to learn in sterile, boring, institutional facilities. Give us beauty, real-life projects, choice, opportunity, and ownership, and we’ll show you what we can do.”
The American Architectural Foundation (2009) determined in a recent study that students want hands-on learning opportunities, variety and flexibility, comfortable and social spaces, seamless technology, sustainable designs, and connections to the outdoors. I could not agree more.
This piece was submitted by Celine Coggins, CEO of Teach Plus, a Boston-based non-profit organization with a mission to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Coggins is the featured speaker at the Nov. 18 Hot Lunch event. At Teach Plus, we are working [...]
Editor’s note: This article was submitted by Traci Buckner, instructional leader (principal) at the National Inventors Hall of Fame School in Akron, Ohio. She spoke at this week’s “What Matters and What Works” breakfast.
Being “creative” is no longer reserved only for art or English class. Times have changed, and many states and school districts are now faced with fiscal challenges and high stakes testing mandates that require creative solutions. It is now imperative that creativity and education become one – beyond art class.
The “one-size-fits-all” approach to teaching is a concept of the past. Just as our own health and wellness thrive on specific prescriptions from the doctor, so too does the academic health of our children. Such prescriptions require innovative thinking and collaboration.
The old saying “there is strength in numbers” rings true not only in war, but also in the fight for the education of our children. Vast partnerships, ones in which the relationships benefit all entities involved, are the ones that make a difference. In many places around the nation, schools and businesses focus on their own agenda day-to-day. In my position as Instructional Leader of a school in which the vision is to promote creative and inventive thinking, collaboration has been at the core of our creative approach to education. In other words, creativity thrives in our school because it is rooted in a rich collaborative community.
Sajan George has seen many of the nation’s recent and most high-profile public education reform efforts from an insider’s perspective. George played a leading role in reinventing the New Orleans school system after it was all but wiped out by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He worked alongside Joel Klein, former New York City schools chancellor. [...]
This article was written by Katie Salen, a professor in the College of Digital Media at Chicago’sDePaul University. Salen is also executive director of the Institute of Play. She spoke at the Sept. 27 “What Matters and What Counts” discussion series breakfast.
When I tell people about the two middle schools I have helped to open, Quest to Learn and ChicagoQuest — schools based on principles of game design and play—the typical first response is, “No way.”
“How is it possible,” they ask, “to design a public school to meet all the state assessment requirements and support 21st century skills like empathy, collaborative problem solving, design thinking, and creativity? There must be rules and requirements that get in your way. How do you find teachers with the right kinds of expertise? How do you support technology integration? How do you cover all that content without teaching to the test?”
While none of these questions come with simple answers I often respond, by drawing on my own background as a game designer. Game designers approach rules much as players do: As constraints to be challenged, pushed against and creatively reconfigured.