Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Let Us Shine

Two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work on my facilitation skills with Emily White. Upon entering the room where the workshop was to be held I quickly found myself joined by a unique grouping of individuals. Three of the four assistant principals from my school, seven of the nine grade level facilitators, three aspiring principals, my current principal (Nigel Pugh) and Emily. I felt a little like how freshmen who are placed in a senior study hall by mistake must feel.

The first task we were asked to complete is to interpret a postcard randomly drawn from a pile. The question was then posed, “What does this card say about your current role as a school leader?”

I was given the attached picture. At first I thought “Argh the beach….I hate the beach…I like the beach….but I don’t like being half naked at the beach.” But I digress…

Looking at the picture I think I had one of those AH HA moments. I was able to make some real connections. I work on an amazing grade level team at QHST. The energy level of each member seems unending and is only overshadowed by their passion.

At any given time each member shines. Generally we are all in tune with common goals but can also embrace a slight bit of ambiguity when life deals us some. A good leader is an individual who can step out of the team’s infectious radiance, put on a pair of shades, and articulate possible difficult questions we are not asking.

The best teams have members who feel entitled to put on the shades at a given point and let the others shine. Every member has done just this at some point. Having the opportunity to sit on the side and reflect is important as a leader.

I guess what I’m trying to say is [ I already know Mayo and Barkan will disagree] during Small Learning Community Meetings, surrounded by respected colleagues whom I’ve come to hold in high regard, is in some way like going to the beach.


Standardized Paradigm Shifting

"When our grandparents went to school, there was a finite amount of information," she said. Now, she said, the focus is "not so much that I have to learn everything there is to learn, but now I need to learn how to find what I need to know." (article linked below)

Is tech-literacy testable? According to ETS, the new skills are testable and standardized tests with these skills are being rolled out in many states. This is very exciting; imagine a Regents Exam with access to the internet.

Students might actually see some relevance, might scare some teachers though.

[Read the Entire Article]

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Are "we" Ready

Recently on another teacher blog (Weblogg-ed) teachers are ranting about the new skill sets our students will be asked to tackle. I wonder what we are doing currently in our classrooms to enhance these skills? Are we as successful products "traditional" skill set value system ready to make a paradigm shift?

This following is excerpted: [entire post]

Our kids’ futures will require them to be:

  • Networked–They’ll need an “outboard brain.”

  • More collaborative–They are going to need to work closely with people to co-create information.

  • More globally aware–Those collaborators may be anywhere in the world.

  • Less dependent on paper–Right now, we are still paper training our kids.

  • More active–In just about every sense of the word. Physically. Socially. Politically.

  • Fluent in creating and consuming hypertext–Basic reading and writing skills will not suffice.

  • More connected–To their communities, to their environments, to the world.

  • Editors of information–Something we should have been teaching them all along but is even more important now.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Wounded Teacher

OK.... I know the NYPD is labeled "New York's Finest", and the FDNY has been labeled "New York's Bravest", and the Corrections Officers are "the Boldest" and court officers unofficially call themselves "the Smartest", but I want to make it official that NYC Teachers are "the most Resourceful". Why?

I witnessed an amazing thing today. As I entered room 205, the freshmen art teacher who is temporarily unable to move around the room on account of a weekend injury to his knee was being helped by no less than four other adults.

Any other person would use a knee desperately needing surgery as an excuse to not try any grand project with their students, but his unwaivering commitment to providing a content linked interdisciplinary experience is worthy of applause. Brian (the Visual Arts teacher) was resourceful enough to solicit help from a permanent sub with no placement for the day, myself, another teacher, and a student teacher from Queens College. Together everyone joined in to help facilitate the lesson.

In awe of not only his dedication, but his resourcefulness I felt compelled to share this with you.