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Monday, November 28, 2016

Education: We're All In This Together

Education at its best is not one or another, but instead a complex collaborative effort to teach all students well. How do you maximize the potential of countless people, funds, materials, research, and approaches to teach all of our students with strength, positivity, and success.

First, define a successful education. I would say that a successful education is an ongoing process that engages and empowers students while developing a strong cognitive foundation of skill, knowledge, and concept as well as the dynamic ability to be successful lifelong learners, contributors, and happy people.

Then think about what you are already doing well in your teaching/learning environment. What's working? Where I teach there are a lot of positive efforts at play. There's a strong personal approach in place that leads to helping each and every student succeed. There are great sports programs, talented educators, bountiful tools and resources, substantial funding, good to great environments for learning, and more.

After that, inclusively and broadly identify your areas of concern. Where can you and your system do better? Areas where we can improve include revising roles, structure, routines, and opportunity to teach all students well. I think we can also elevate our research and development efforts to timely align our efforts in more modern ways. I'd like to see better use of authentic distributive leadership models (teams within teams) as well.

Then prioritize. What's most important? In my opinion, I believe that we can better our work by our most challenged learners as well as elevate and deepen our strategic use of technology to better teach. These are two important priorities. I'd also like to see our system efforts streamlined by greater use of distributive leadership models that put much of the decision making into the hands of all stakeholders in effective ways.

Assess, Reflect, Review, and Revise
Implement effective, timely systems of individual and collective reflection, review, and revision. Embrace an attitude of ongoing growth and development, growth and development that depends on inclusive efforts and lots of transparent share.

There's lots we can do to better our individual and collective efforts in education. First we must address the "elephants in the room" - the issues that people often ignore or avoid. Then we must take a strategic approach to an ongoing effort to improve our work. As we do this we have to re-look at structures, roles, and routines that have been in place for a long time and ask the question, "Do these roles, structures, and routines serve our students, families, and the community well?" If not, it's time to revise for betterment.

More of the same is sometimes the right way to go, but it's also often not the right direction.