Thursday, February 11, 2010

What If

After reading some blog posts reflecting on the latest Educon. Especially Bud's "SLA isn't the promised land". I got to wondering what I would do if I were principal at one of the schools that I have worked for in the past.

It certainly wouldn't look like SLA, and not just because I work in elementary or middle schools. Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of SLA and as such he, I'm sure he picked a staff that has a similar educational philosophy. Taking over an existing school also means taking over the existing staff. How would a person radically change the philosophy of a school without being able to radically change the staff?

And thus we come to the problem facing major school districts around the country, even the Secretary of Education himself; How does one fix education without starting over? Evidently most big cities have quit trying, at least it seems that way because their solution is to close failing schools and reopen them as private schools, charter schools, or small schools whatever flavor of "educational reform" is your favorite.


There are of course no shortage of books detailing how to motivate people. We can influence friends and win converts, but in the end is it really a reform? I've blogged in the past that the current state of public education in America is actually much better than we think it is, even in our worst schools.

I think our schools are more of a reflection of ourselves. That the "fix" has less to do with pedagogy and more to do with people. Yes, problem based learning is a great way to teach. Yes, 1 to 1 technology should be the norm. Yes, teachers matter as well as leaders. But all that isn't the cure, it isn't the "fix". Or maybe it is, but all that won't happen until, well I guess people really start to care.

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1 comment:

Brendan said...

From http://www.21stcenturycollaborative.com/2010/02/the-notion-of-leadership-isshould-be-shifting/

Kouzes and Posner’s transformational leadership is described as:

Model the way
Modeling means going first, living the behaviors you want others to adopt. This is leading from the front. People will believe not what they hear leaders say but what they see leader consistently do.
Inspire a shared vision
People are motivated most not by fear or reward, but by ideas that capture their imagination.
Note that this is not so much about having a vision, but communicating it so effectively that others take it as their own.
Challenge the process
Leaders thrive on and learn from adversity and difficult situations. They are early adopters of innovation.
Enable others to act
Encouragement and exhortation is not enough. People must feel able to act and then must have the ability to put their ideas into action.
Encourage the heart
People act best of all when they are passionate about what they are doing. Leaders unleash the enthusiasm of their followers this with stories and passions of their own.