Sunday, January 10, 2010

A first step to changing education - "Share"

Deron Durflinger, Principal at the progressive minded Van Meter Community School District, went out on a limb with - "Pay Teachers $100,000 or More." I commented that he has moved to the end point, a goal, a vision and that is great. But we need to focus on the now. He's a forest guy, I'm a tree guy.

The tree I'm staring at has the word - "Share" engraved into it's bark.

He suggests a system where all students have access to the best teacher through blended classrooms where teachers have 50, 100, 150 or more students and get paid $1,000 per student. A discussion naturally ensued and Deron admitted he has more answers than what he could reveal in Pay Teachers $1,000 or more. The post was could have been five times as long based on his answers to the 8 and counting comments that given.

I would like to suggest we look at every opportunity to "Share". Share teachers; Share ideas with each other; Share ideas with the building; Share ideas with the community; and Share the Vision the 21st Century Skills portion of the Iowa Core Curriculum provides for us.

Share Teachers: Traditionally this means sharing with districts close, where the teacher leaves the building and travels to another. While this can still be done, we need to move to sharing via the internet and/or ICN. The use of Course Management Systems (CMS), like Moodle and or simply a Wiki, website or Google docs (for delivering basic instruction) would allow the teacher to be based anywhere and travel to any school involved - even if it were to be a ways away. All the students could be connected and the teacher could schedule reasonable school visits.

Share Ideas: I have a river of ideas and inspiration passing by my desktop every day through "Tweet Deck" and "Twitter". This is great and has changed my professional life for the better forever. However, I still feel we're operating as individual districts with a common interest, not a cohesive group that has both a vision and a working relationship towards that vision. Our one-to-one districts sat down once in Iowa, we need to sit down at least once a month. Maybe that's happening with other districts and they feel that's good for now. What can we do by next year?

Share ideas in the building: Don't operate alone and share your ideas with your leadership team and teachers. Provide ongoing professional development, including special meetings, virtual training and daily reminders. Get teachers to set up their own PLNs, including teachers in the building and out. Show them yours and show them how. Work to strengthen those who get it right away and target those who are close as you can devote time to them.

Share what you're doing with the community: Have a constant stream of information through your website, newspaper, blog and twitter to what you're doing. Give them the whys and be sure your staff and district are all on the same page. Educate.

Share the 21st Century Skills: Read them over again. It's a pass from the DE to do the very things we're tweeting about every night. When a parent questions, point to the skills; when a teacher questions, point to the skills; when a board member questions, point to the skills. "How can we post that video on Youtube," a parent asked me. My answer, "How can we not?" A simple review of the DE documentation shows that peer review and that kind of exposure is vital.

I think we have the opportunity to move forward yet this year, but time will quickly disappear if we don't start on the specifics.

Let's Share!

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