Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Common goals... in Vermont education

I worked with a group of 50-ish great people today in Berlin, VT to dive into what Open Education Resources ( #goOpen ) could mean to Vermont education.

I was tasked with presenting to the group at days end... summarize discussions that took place during the day and cast ideas on how to move forward.

It's a lofty challenge, actually. 

It's not just about #goOpen (Open Education Resources). It's about how to fit many, many gears together. What's preventing something like #goOpen from moving forward?

Here it is, the speech and slides... in all it's oddity ; )

Thursday, May 5, 2016

To boldly go... requires a sense of adventure

I was lucky early on in my career in education to work with a lady named Val Gardner, the Principal at the time at Champlain Valley Union High School.

I decided to leave CVU and dive into the unknown as a Network Administrator for South Burlington School District. SB was launching into the networked and Internet world. You know, the shift from dial up internet to the wired and wireless internet and all that went with it.

I was excited but also very nervous about the shift. Val wrote me a card as a parting gift that said...

"To boldly go... requires a sense of adventure."

I still have the card to this day.

I think of that card often and it's message, and speak to it often in my work in education.

The methods of 'same old' or 'add it' are not fiscally responsible or sustainable. They lead to broken systems and burnout... the results you don't want or need.

I'm not talking about 'change for the sake of change' here. I'm talking change that's needed. Change that makes sense.

In visiting and collaborating with so many schools over the years I've found three constants...

1. If you've got problems that needs solving they will not be remedied with the same thinking and a 'business as usual' mentality.

Build on systems that still make sense. Make a list and start moving what doesn't.

In so many schools I work with it's easy for people to identify what doesn't work. But... problems linger year-to-year and often for a decade or longer.

2. Core values. Develop them and make them simple and sensible. Then stick to them. The elegance of simplicity will draw people into the cause and then the complexity of the work behind those goals will have purpose.

3. Time. Shift time in schools to unlock innovation. Promote the use of time toward thoughtfulness and a better sense of pace and purpose... toward collaboration.

People often want to change for the better but are unwilling to make those leaps. See, our patterns provide comfort. Changing systems we're comfortable with and simultaneously bored with is still... unsettling.

Along the way it's easy to get complacent, to get too comfortable, and ultimately to get institutionalized. And as we do... it's easy to get too negative.

It's better to feel the butterflies of risk and innovation and than to feel bored.

"To boldly go... requires a sense of adventure."

Yup. Sure does.

Thanks, Val. I've lived it and keep preaching it.