Friday, April 2, 2010


Well, January 24th was my last blog post. That's a long time ago in "Blog Years." Enough to become even less relevant than I was before. A blend of writer's block, busyness, but more than those, a lack of clear message.

My last post talked about "getting into the classroom" and how important I felt that was and the forms it takes. I've started and deleted four posts since then because of the twists and turns each experience took my emotions and thoughts. And now, just days away from presenting at Iowa's "1 to 1 Institute" on April 7th, I've found clarity.

A blend of experiences in my school, online, in professional development and in the world in general as brought me to place, has given me a message for this Wednesday.

"If change is going to occur, it is going to have to take place at the Principal/instructionalist-teacher level, one teacher at a time."

This thought came from the "one block at a time" commercial about inner city transformation from that American Express commercial. Basically start with one, make it better and move on. They used a block and changed buildings, we start with a staff member and change philosophies through learning and empowerment.

Once you empower one, you use that teacher to work with others. Or you can work with more than one, but I'm thinking small groups (1-3). There is so much with technology that turns teachers off on the mere mention of things such as Twitter, Diigo, that a few would be the most. My hope is maybe we can get the exponential change needed to keep up with technology and system changes coming in the not-so-distant future. It will be a flat line with little visible change, but if we're all doing it and progressing forward, we'll hit that slope and take off!

We need to combine that with an "ask for forgiveness" attitude when it comes to things like the DE, Chapter 12 and all the regulations we see standing in our way. A little school in East Marshall county did that with virtual reality technology. A high, high official in the Iowa DE gave the principal serious push-back when he called them as he was implementing the initiative. The same official lauded their achievements just a short couple years later in Washington, D.C. introducing him and a student as educational pioneers. If we do great things, there will be a line of people ready to support us, who will not give us the green light - formally anyway.

The Iowa Core Curriculum and it's 21st Century Skills is enough of a green light for me. I can frame many of my ideas under their "modules" and the skills they've defined that our kids need. I can shape and find ways to validate activities requiring "seat time" until we flush that term and move on to something more meaningful and relevant.

Scott McCleod, Director of CASTLE facilitated a mind-bending session, for transitioning high schools for the 21st century. Public education has been viewed as the behemoth system that will not survive the rise of all of these disruptive technologies. Many of the best practice situations right now are from private schools. Scott was pressed by others about why he then spent so much time trying to be a resource for public schools. Looking off into some unknown distance he told us - "...maybe there is a faint, glimmer of hope in small pockets around the country in public education..."

I plan to be one of those glimmers that turns into a light.

I will present my experiences and ideas that shaped this conclusion at my session, and am toying with trying to get it broadcast somehow on the net (or at least video taping and youtubing later). Also at my session we will discussion and hash through some next steps for me and anyone else at different levels of technology infusion. The great thing is most in the audience will be at schools that are one-to-one or going there.

Getting one-to-one is a huge first step, but the bigger one I see is to move a staff forward. As for outsourcing a lot of this to providers from anywhere but the state of Iowa. I have a hard time believing my staff will not step to the plate and those who don't will not survive leaving us with a trainable, eager group of learners who will blend on-site coaching with all forms of online resources. We are currently trying to set up sharing of our Spanish teacher with three other districts.

Phew, finally and a lot to get out. Hopefully I will have more soon and I plan to do nothing else but progress forward with my journey to help shape instruction.

I will be posting resources to follow April 7th, or after, about our 1 to 1 Institute

1 comment:

Mr. Jim Homan said...

Keep up the good work. It can happen and will. I am the laptop program coordinator at our private co-ed high school in Omaha and we have had laptops in our school now for over 10 years. Even after all that time, it is still a challenge to keep the staff trained and all pointed in the same direction. It is an ongoing process. Don't wait until everything is perfect. Just keep taking the small steps and they will add up! Keep fighting!