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Showing posts from 2015

Best Xmas Gift Ever: Appreciation & Affirmation From A Former Student

Three days before Christmas this year, a direct message came through on my Facebook account. It was from a former student of mine from 12 years ago named Reed when I was concluding my last year as the Leadership Advisor at Buchanan High School.
     I am sharing this with you below for a couple of reasons. One, as an educator, there is no better gift than a student, especially after time has passed, reaching out to you and acknowledging their educational experience. Two, his story is the ultimate affirmation for an educator. It’s not an affirmation about me as an educator, but what works in education. His story reminds us, in a very personal and detailed way, what matters in school. And that is that our mission is to help all students find a passion and purpose and then support them in pursuit of both.
     Although this student likes to attribute his success and his unique journey to his experience with me, it’s really more about the work we were both involved in collaboratively …

Collaboration (Partnering) 2.0

There may not be a skill that is getting more attention than ever than COLLABORATION. Indeed, in Education, we use the word so much that it has sadly become cliche or jargon. However, that being said, it is and has been identified as the most important professional skill in the new economy (See Forbes Magazine). Matter of fact, one of the dominant reasons people often get fired is still related to an inability to work with others. I like the word collaboration, but preferred the word PARTNERING. Collaboration sounds like working with others, while partnering sounds like a long-term investment in a relationship that is mutually beneficial.
     So, if we can agree that partnering is crucial and essential. Let’s identify what it really looks and feels like in our educational environments and beyond. One, partnering first infers that we will work with our peers. Students need to partner with students, teachers need to partner with teachers and so on. And this partnering can extend w…

Let's Pay Teachers $100,000 Per Year And Expect Transformative Work

I recently posed on Twitter, as well as FTF, my proposal to pay teachers $100,000 per year. Naturally, I got a mix of reactions mostly asking how, why and what for? Beyond figuring out the finances (which I admit is a daunting task), what would be the rationale(why) and the expectation(what for)? Well, here you go:
The Rationale
     There has been a dramatic decline for years, each year now, in the numbers of people choosing to enter teacher credentialing programs and ultimately the teacher profession. As an example, enrollments in teacher preparation programs in CA have declined by 75 percent over the past decade – from 77,700 in 2001-02 to 19,933 in the 2012-13 school year, the last year for which figures are available ("New California Teaching Credentials Decline for 10th Successive Year." EdSource. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.).
     The reality is that too many young people, who are educated and career focused, are not seeing teaching as a viable career option - ei…

As The Edu Worlds Collide, It's Compliance/Control vs. Creativity/Innovation

The worlds are colliding. It’s more than old vs. new or low tech vs. high tech. It’s the clash of the mindsets, pedagogies, philosophies, systems, approaches, protocols and operations. I simply like to call it clash of the ATTITUDES.
    That’s right. In the end, we do or don’t do something based on our attitudes. They come from a variety of places. But our general attitude towards how we approach the world or solve problems will dictate everything.
     When it comes to education, I think the divide can be seen on two simple sides. There is Compliance & Control on one side and Creativity & Innovation on the other. These are at odds.
     Indeed, Harvard Professor Tony Wagner has said, “The culture of school is radically at odds with the culture of learning necessary for innovation.”
     We have to decide what we want. And as usual, we can’t have it all. We all have to decide which side you want to live on and error on. For me, it’s simple. All good things that have happened…

Evolutionary Education - 5 Things That Could Be Extinct Soon

It has often been uttered, that “only the fittest survive.” But when it comes to education, it seems things that might not even be that fit have continued to survive. However, just like in living species through time - dinosaurs, sabre tooth tigers and the wooly mammoth just to name a few - even things that have lived on for a long time eventually go extinct. So, with that in mind, it seems educational evolution is occurring too and extinction might be inevitable for a variety of standard educational pedagogy, tools and practices.
HERE ARE MY FIVE THINGS THAT COULD BE EXTINCT SOON:
Textbooks/Single Source Curriculum: (this includes ebook textbooks too). Regardless of whether they are digital or not, depending on and surviving on one text as the foundational source of information and context - regardless of course, age group and purpose - seems almost prehistoric at this point. Information changes daily and resources are born every minute on line. Anyone doing serious academic work…

If Owning The Learning Is The Goal, Student Voice Is The Means

If you read all of the academic writing related to the future of work in a global economy, the bottom line can be summed up by saying that today’s students (tomorrow’s professionals), have to be more independent, self-reliant, creative, innovative, flexible and entrepreneurial. They need to be ultimately ready for a variety of daily challenges in a quickly evolving job environment.
     This is at the heart of why education should be and is trying to respond through learning that is more indicative of a 21st century environment. So, if we want our future professionals to be the aforementioned, then we have move towards having our students “own their learning” now. To own their learning, educators have to embrace the STUDENT VOICE.
     As a former high school media teacher and student activities director, I made a career of out of engaging, inviting, celebrating and empowering the student voice. I believed in students and wanted them to believe in themselves. So, I gave them huge …

21st Century High School Student Bill of Rights

Since I began teaching in 1990, I have repeatedly heard the term “reform” with regards to our educational system. And as someone who has always believed in and practiced teaching that worked to be real world, relevant and student-oriented, I can still get excited about the “possibilities” of real change. However, even with all of the classrooms, schools and some systems that have embraced new standards, new technology, project-based approaches, democratization/student voice and more, it’s almost appalling how little has changed in many of our nation’s high school classrooms. They are still dominated by outdated pedagogies, resources, activities and learning environments. Many still live and die by the lecture, low level note taking, and low level quizzes and assessments, as well as teacher/administrator mindsets not in line with anything related to 21st century workplaces or careers.
     This lack of overall progress has lead me to be more anxious, adamant and even angry about th…

The ABC's Of Flipping Your School Culture

By now, most in education have heard the term “flipped.” It can used when talking about changing the pedagogy or instructional strategy by turning what you’ve traditionally done upside down. Flipped classrooms have done things like moved he independent work associated with homework to the classroom and the direct instruction associated with class to home. We we have “flipped” classrooms, learning and instruction. But when we normally talk about flipping things, we often forget that we would probably have to flip the culture if you want the others to truly have impact or survive. Even George Costanza on “Seinfeld” had success by just doing the opposite of what he’s always done.
     Therefore, one could ask what about our traditional school culture or cultures could be improved by just turning it upside down? Well here are 5 flips: 
FLIP THE RULES      Instead of focusing on the rules or policies as as institution, focus on opportunities. Naturally, I’m not saying abandon all rules …

5 Ways To Help Education Organizations Really Change

We hear a lot about change. We hear a lot about innovation. We hear a lot about mindset. So, what do schools, school districts and educational organizations truly need to do to move forward? Here are few starters:
Really Live in the Real World - education loves to say ‘real world,’ but has a hard time doing this.  We need to look at what leaders, innovators and change agents do in business, science, politics and other entities do to facilitate and really lead? We can do this by reading the books and publications they do, connect with them on social media, attend their professional gatherings and more. Educators, more than any other group, should be spending time and having discussions with those from other walks of life. What works outside should work inside. Traditionally, our schools have been artificial worlds that we created. The time has come to end this disconnect. Model - again we love to say this. How can we really walk the walk? Easy, decide to do it and do it often. If we are …

High School English: The Ultimate Career Readiness Course

Can we agree that one of the most important, if not the most important, goals of high school or secondary education is to prepare young people for their future professional lives - also know as careers? And we can also acknowledge the statistics demonstrating how many times a young person will change jobs or careers, as well as how expensive it is these days to attend post-secondary training (college or other) are all staggering? College graduation rates are low and so are the rates of successful employment in chosen career areas.

So, then our question becomes how can we better prepare our young people for careers? What can we do in high school, that we’re not doing now, that will improve the career prep education of our young people? Well, let’s first look at what we’ve traditionally done.  One, students are assigned a counselor. Don’t get me wrong. Counselors are great and do tremendous work. But most high school counselors have large caseloads with hundreds of stu…

10 Reasons Why PBL; 10 Challenges for PBL Teaching

We are hearing more and more about project-based learning each and everyday, both inside and outside of education. And although it’s not a brand new pedagogy, it has evolved into a true 21st century pedagogy that can address all of the multitude of challenges that schools and educators face. It has a much deeper and more detailed pedagogical foundation than ever before, as well as more resources than ever. That being said, why is PBL poised to be the answer to our pedagogical dilemmas. Here are 10 justifications:
A GLUE IF YOU WILL: We need an overall pedagogy to address and include new standards, 21st century competencies, technology integration and more. PBL is the how to all of our whats. CAREER READY: We say this a lot, but we need to mean it. PBL allows choice and opportunities for students to explore, create and connect. When students are addressing real world problems, this will expose their thinking and experiences to potential career areas. Students need opportunities to get o…