Google+ Badge

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Teaching Well: You Can't Always Get What You Want

There's so much that I desire to help me teach better. That list includes the following:
  • An one-to-one iPad for each student during math class as well as the ready ability for students and I to choose and upload apps that match learning needs and interests. A couple of years ago I watched a group of fifth graders from Arlington present their one-to-one iPad initiative. They were so empowered. Note that I'm a fan of a mixed platform of devices including tablets, laptops, and perhaps others including BYOD.
  • Continued one-to-one laptop use for each student for project, writing, reading, and other creative work.
  • Greater lead time for important initiatives. Lead time really helps people to do a good job.
  • Looking for and instituting new, deeper processes for decision making, curriculum improvement, and collaboration. Good process can truly serve to empower what we do together.
  • A STEAM Center in the classroom that's supported by some carpentry and painting to make it a more accessible and creative center. (I currently have a STEAM Center, but a little support would make it better.)
  • The ability to write and submit grants proposals without oversight. Currently to submit grants to the local foundation requires oversight and signing off of the idea--at times, new ideas are not approved.
  • First day of school access to technology and WIFI for students who do not have ready tech access at home so they can start the year like the other students with tech access. This is one way to bridge the opportunity gap. To do this well takes lead time, attention, and training.
  • More time on task for collaborative planning. Collaborative planning time exists, and a bit more would be better.
  • More inclusion of teacher voice in deep and meaningful ways with regard to curriculum development, revision, enrichment, and implementation. A lot of times curriculum decisions or targets are made without inclusion of teacher voices.
  • More inclusion of teacher voice in overall system goal and vision setting. It would be great to include all in systemwide vision setting and goal. That process would have to start at latest in March of the previous year. 
  • Greater distributive leadership in schools so that teachers have more say in what they do. The mismatch of teachers on task all the time while others are choosing what they do doesn't result in best teaching/learning. I think distributive models of school leadership would work better. 
  • Less administrators and more time-on-task educators--I do believe we need some administrators who may not have responsibility for teaching students, but as it stands now, I think the number of administrators can sometimes overwhelm a classroom educator since there are so many people to report to. In general, when most educators are working directly with students, we all stay centered on what students really need. 
  • Greater share of professional learning, professional learning opportunities, and news of what's happening, what has happened, and what's planned. The "collective genius" of an organization can be maximized by ready systems of share so that when one learns, all learn. This is one way to invigorate and improve systems.
  • Response to emails--many times I ask questions and receive no response. Honestly I think if I received more responses, I'd have less questions to ask. Unanswered questions create worry, conjecture, frustration, and lost time. When questions are readily answered, there creates a more fluid systematic effort. 
  • Openness to new ideas, responsible risk, debate, and shared decision making. Often change and improvement doesn't happen because we don't make the time to sit down and truly think about what we can do to make significant change. This requires good process such as the "hosting conversations" work, work that leads to wise action. 
  • The chance to let all students use Minecraft at school to build their ability to invent, think and create mathematically, and make and utilize 3D models. 
At the school system where I work, people do a good job, but I believe there's still room for growth. Collaborative, inclusive attention to issues that matter will bring about that change.

You can't always get what you want, but you can dream, and advocate, and look for ways to make positive change on your own and with others. You're never there--good teaching is always a work in progress.