Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reflections from EdLeader21

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the EdLeader21 Conference in Dallas, Texas. Whenever, an educator attends a conference--at least one that's halfway decent--it's tempting to go back to school the next day and try to implement anything and everything. Of course, this leads to failure. Fortunately, Ken Kay and the EdLeaders seem to understand that as they challenged us to grab low-hanging fruits and to plant seeds.

As a new assistant principal, I've already made some small tweaks, but I'm still seeking to understand my new school, so I surely won't be very aggressive when I return to school on Monday.

Low-hanging fruit
I oversee our school's SBIT (School-based Intervention Team, part of our RTI process) and want to ensure we do a better job of understanding the needs of students referred to this team. So, I've developed a quick survey that students can complete online or on paper to better understand their needs. This will help us personalize learning experiences and increase student learning.

Harder to reach fruit
Our PLC's are at different places for a variety of reasons, so these goals will be differentiated. 
  • Use PLC's to answer, To what extent does our teaching emphasize the 4 C's (Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking)? What percentage of our assessments require the 4 C's? 
  • Challenge PLC's to ensure we make the shift from acquisition of knowledge to a deeper understanding and application of skills and knowledge?
At the EdLeader21 Conference Tony Wagner stated, "Isolation is the killer of innovation." From the teacher side, we must provide time and resources for our PLCs to innovate. Additionally, our teachers are doing some great things within their classrooms, but too often they're doing things in isolation. I'd love to see our teachers publicize these great things and open their classrooms to their peers. In addition, I hope teachers will open their classrooms to their peers, so that we can continue to learn from each other. 

Examine how we can turn professional learning opportunities into a collaborative and creative process by providing teachers with choices but ensuring it is student-driven and research-based. I'm exploring use of badges and a monthly challenge. 

Planting seeds
Explore ways to develop project-based learning to ensure our students receive a coherent, viable and guaranteed curriculum that engages them in the 4 C's. 

Give students more control over their learning so students are engaged in their learning rather than merely complying with school, district and state requirements?

Challenge PLCs to develop means of increasing student choice and examine how we assess our students with a move towards project-based learning, portfolios, and culminating assessments. 
Explore ways that we can expand our internship and individual research programs 

I challenge myself to constantly evaluate How students experience learning at Monticello High School? Is the teaching and learning aligned with our standards and the 4 C's? 


Of course, none of this will be possible without the dedication and hard work of our committed and forward-thinking faculty and staff. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by educators who understand we can't continue to use test scores as the major means of assessment, whether they be state end of course tests or classroom tests, and we will not be able to refocus ourselves unless we focus on the 4 C's because they are what really matter.

While state standards and their corresponding tests represent hurdles, as educators if we follow the 4 C's (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking) we will Embrace Students, Inspire Learning and Innovate Opportunities. 


Jonathon Wennstrom said...

Great reflections Reed! I agree that the more we support our staff by allowing them to collaborate the better it is for our students. It sounds like you value and support your staff and I'm sure they appreciate that. Keep up the great work!


Jennifer Hogan said...

Reed, I love how you are thoughtful about challenging your teachers / PLCs to reflect and collaborate. Have you considered getting student feedback about the 4Cs and sharing that with the teachers?

I'm looking forward to reading about your leadership of incorporating more project-based assessments and portfolios at your school. Sounds like you have clear goals for your staff. Bravo!