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Showing posts from 2014

High Schools Need True Community And Happy Students

Lately I have been asking school leaders, staff members and education aficionados what I consider to be a universal question now for all high schools

     Since any or all high school students could choose to leave your school tomorrow for on-line or independent study programs, what are you doing to keep them coming to your school today?

     High school students have more choices than ever before and rightly so. They can choose charter programs, independent study, on-line schools, blended programs and more. So again, with all of these choices, are our schools thinking how to keep them coming to their schools today?

     This is a somewhat new or even foreign idea to many educators. Historically, students, primarily from our neighborhoods or attendance boundaries, just showed up and made up the enrollment or student body. More recently, with more choice type situations being created, we might have seen situations where students are transferring from one school to another.


The 8 P's Of Education

I believe in and have used the Four C’s as foundational elements for much of my professional work for years. I love that some educators have added their versions of a fifth or sixth C as well. Whether it’s four, five or six C’s, they are relevant and important. My intent here with the 8 P’s is not to be cute or coy. Rather, it is to pick up where the Four C’s leave off and work towards more specificity and application. So, here we go with the 8 P’s of education:

     If educational success is going to be based on in-depth thinking, producing quality work and having an impact on one’s career opportunities, we need to focus on students’ passions. Passion is somewhat innate, as well as sometimes hard to identify or apply to all educational environments. But that’s why we need to make it a focus. If we read about, write about, speak about and interact with information and experiences related to our passion(s), there is great likelihood for individual buy-in, ownership and enga…

Is High School Ready For A Major Makeover? Think 'Yes' In A Big Way

Disclaimer #1 – I’m not the EduGod, EduCzar or EduMaster, but I am willing to share any ideas I have about rethinking high school with those that could be.

Disclaimer #2 – The following ideas are not for the faint of heart or stomach when it comes to education. These are downright revolutionary or at minimum seriously lofty. Either way, I realize they are not necessarily realistic given any analysis of our current system (s).

Disclaimer #3 – Good things cost money. Not all good ideas involve money, but many do require investment. As a nation, we have to decide how we can create something new and better. This will require not only innovation, but also investment.

     As learners, we are sometimes challenged (not often enough fortunately) to think big. We are able to ask the question ‘what if’ when looking at a challenge. We are tasked with redesigning, recreating, reimagining or rethinking the entire thing. Maybe these are more 22nd century ideas. Well, when it comes to our high schoo…

Five Things Educators Will Have To Accept & Embrace

The profession of education is going through unprecedented change. Many aspects of teaching and school will eventually never be the same again. And nor should they. Although wholesale and fundamental change is slow, there are some things that educators will have to accept and embrace (if they plan on being successful and staying in the profession).

     These five are:

1) Education is more PUBLIC than ever – I’m tired of the word transparency. And that is really just the beginning of being “public” as an educator in our changing paradigm. We need to showcase our professional work as educators, as well as the work of our students, with larger communities. Venues such as YouTube, Twitter and all Social Media outlets will be a foundational way for us to continue the idea of being public. Whether it’s for parents, administration, district officials, government agencies or others, educators need to fully accept that close doors and private work are gone (as well they should be)…

Education Needs Transformation, But So Does Everything But The Kitchen Sink

For years, I have raged against the many limits of our traditional education system and our inability to truly reform, or even transform into something better or amazing. Whether it’s the pursuit of real world projects, better technology, or more rationale policies, education has always seemed, to me, to be out of step and ultimately behind the innovations and progress going on in the real world.
      Naturally, this would not be a difficult thing to prove or demonstrate everyday in most of our schools in this country. We continue to put our students through a system that was designed decades ago with expectations, skills, activities and systems that are outdated and ineffective.

     A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany. Sadly, it’s really a relatively simple one, but significant to me nonetheless. After my daily annihilation of our educational system, I realized that we are capable of greatness and higher quality in all that we do, but rarely, if ever, seem to be able to f…

Let's Transform Education By Focusing on Tranformation

Part of the challenge in educational reform is that not everyone defines learning or education the same way. Sure, we all refer to things such as literacy, college and career ready, 21st century skills, etc.
     However, what is the core purpose of one’s education? Beyond specifics related to employment skills, literacy skills and standards mastery, I offer up this idea: Education is meant to transform one’s life. In other words, education has to dramatically, or even radically, transform the person into a new, improved person that is more emotionally, socially, and intellectually ready for any challenge the world has to offer.

     Should we as educators not be fascinated with the idea of transformation? Think about it. When you reflect on your own education, what key experiences or learning opportunities can you identify that essentially changed you as a person? I would venture to say that if you made a list, it would look similar to mine.

     So, as we ponder on the…


The term DIY – Do It Yourself – has been around for over a century. Originally, it referred to those that would rely on themselves for everything from home repairs to various fix-it projects.

     In more contemporary times, it was the anthem for the punk rock and alternative music movements that discovered that bands did not have to depend on large, corporate record companies, booking agencies or management entities to start their careers. Instead, these bands could record and release their own music, book their own shows and take their music directly to the people without the corporate middleman.

     Education is no stranger to the DIY movement either. Indeed, much of the spirit of charter schools was the idea that a group of like-minded educators, parents or community members could start their own schools based on the needs of their students.

     So, what is the DIY movement mean now to the profession of education in this era of technology integration, increased relevance a…

Educators Must Be Practioners

      As a student, did you ever have a teacher that could talk the talk, but did not walk the walk?

      Well, I’ll never forget having on obese PE teacher in middle school. I am not here to discredit someone for being obese. Indeed, as an adult, I too have become overweight. The difference is that I’m not a PE teacher or someone who preaches health and fitness for a living. He would tell us to run when he could not run himself. I saw this as hypocritical and disingenuous.
     How many of you had an English teacher who couldn’t spell or made lots of grammatical errors? Again, I think it’s ok to make spelling or grammatical errors, unless you’re the person who teaches and preaches this for a living.

     Once I became a teacher, I worked hard not to repeat these examples. So, as a Journalism and Media teacher, I continued to write, publish and produce my own freelance work. Not only did that keep me fresh and relevant, but also gave me credibility. If my students were wrest…

A 21st Century Education For All - It's Now A Student Rights Issue

 .    My educational pedagogy has always been based on the constant attempt to look at every educational experience through a student’s perspective. It could stem from my early background as journalism/media professional or from my lifetime interest in advocacy.

     Naturally, I think far too often educators have not looked at things in terms of student impact or perspective when implementing lessons, activities, programs or even pedagogy.

     And now, at a time when the world of work and education are changing so dramatically, I am forced once again to ask what are we doing in our educational system designs that are considering student perspective, student interest, student voice, student choice, student impact and more?

     Essentially, are things as crucial as educational technology, web access, use of social media, real college and career opportunities, mentoring, job shadowing, individual students interests things that can be considered optional or left to the whims of parti…

Forced To Drink My Own Professional Kool-Aid

As a student, and certainly as an educator, I have continually strived to be a lifelong learner. One of the few advantages of getting older is the realization that one can and should continue to learn.

     And as an educator who has focused more in the recent years in the inherent value of learning and what influences it, I have done lots of analysis on the concepts of change, reflection and risk-taking. For the sake of this writing, let’s take the concept of risk and its ultimate impact and influence on one’s actual learning.

      This has become more important lately as we move more towards Ed tech integration, project-based approaches and more real world challenges. Solving real world problems and applying our learning to project-based challenges will always require a certain level of risk. We risk our untested ideas, our creativity, challenges from working in various teams and groups, evaluation and assessment and more.
     The experts are now studying this concept of…


     One of the more common goals/challenges that emerges regularly in education is the subject of relevance. Relevance is the idea of connecting learning to things that matter. And we know what matters to all of us are things that we can see, connect and apply. It’s what’s real right?

     With that in mind, how do we work to create learning experiences that are ‘real’ for all students? Well, this is challenging in that we have created entire systems of learning that are really built on artificial foundations vs. real ones.
     As an example, our entire idea of the classroom is predicated on something that is really not real world or real – at least certainly not any longer. The set-up of the classroom - with students at desks or seats and a teacher at the front dispensing knowledge and instruction - comes from a time when information was in the hands of a few experts, while workers or employees worked in factories or factory-like situations. Additionally, our schools were crea…