« Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century | Main | Book Review: Assembly Required (Lezotte, McKee) »

Staying the Course to Meaningful Change

In his latest book, The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner issues a "call to action" for all those who are concerned with how we educate our students for the future. Wagner paints a compelling picture of how we should be preparing students and for the need to stop tinkering with our school systems and make meaningful and significant alterations. In the conclusion of the book, Wagner identifies three changes in our world that demand different methods for teaching and learning:

All kids need new skills to thrive in a global knowledge economy.
In the age of the Internet, using new information to solve new problems matters more than recalling old information.
Today's youth are differently motivated when we compare them to previous generations
(p. 256 - 257)

And Wagner provides examples of schools where instruction and assessment have changed drastically; schools where the teachers are lifelong learners and who hold themselves and each other accountable for the learning of all students. Schools in which there is true collaboration around student work and student learning; where adults learn and work together, establish relationships with their students and with each other, and where every child is seen as a capable learner.

So, once again I am left wondering what it will take - or if it is even possible - to create a school like the ones described in a traditional public school system in this age of accountability (which I am afraid I do not see going away even with the new administration). What I did not read about in Wagner's description of these schools that appear to be breaking the mold were constraints imposed by special education regulations, by schedules and staffing decisions based on athletics, or by conflicts among the members of the school or greater community. It seems to me that the work of creating culture and developing a unified vision and building a true community of learners requires so much time, so much tenacity, and so much support - especially in the very traditional school systems that it is almost impossible to imagine real change taking place.

For me, having reached one of the milestone birthdays this year that makes one begin to think about retirement (or at least the career options after retiring from the every day grind of school administration), I wonder how much more tenacity I can muster and how I can continue to fight the good fight at the same time I work to develop better relationships with the teachers, the students, the parents, the school board, and the community. Because at this point, I feel as though all I do is battle; even after a day and a half of in-service with 67 teachers which got very positive reviews overall; even though I am seeing more people sharing ideas and thoughts about how we should be meeting the needs of kids; even though I am seeing more walls between staff coming down and people speaking up in large faculty meetings about what they think and believe. How can we maintain the momentum, nurture ourselves and others - but keep really pushing things forward to make the kinds of changes Wagner and others like him propose.

I continue to predict that education in 10 years will be much different - that it will have to be. I am even planning the redesign of our middle school with that in mind - thinking about flexible spaces and small group learning; about infrastructure that will support the high tech world; and about a structure and setting that will encourage inquiry, creation, and meaningful work for everyone. Yet, I continue to be challenged by those who can see only what education has been and only what will maintain the status quo. So what can I, a building administrator, do to at the very least keep things moving forward at least at a rate that will not leave students too far behind. And how do I develop a support system for myself, my assistant, and the others who believe we can bring about meaningful change? As much as I am trying to be patient and celebrate successes, I also have the sense that time is running out; that we are at a critical juncture and we will either break through or fall back into the "just how it is" routine of public education. Any suggestions? Mantras? Support groups?

Sue King
[email protected]

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

#ccko9
#eci831
#ic3s21
#passiondriven
1:1
1:1 laptops
21st century
21st Century
21st Century Schools
21st Century Skills
21st Century skills
Abraham Lincoln
Accountability
accountabilty
adifference
administrator
Adolescent Literacy Panel
advice
aldonza
aleccouros
Alfie Kohn
Angela Maiers
aptitude
Arthur Benjamin
Artists
Arts
ASCD
Assessment
astronaut
Author
avatar
basketball
Beyond Discipline
Blog
blogging
blogs
boss
calculus
Capacity
Career and College Readiness
Carnegie Foundation
CEDS
Cell Phones
Challenge
Change
change
Charleston Children's Museum
Chris Anderson
CIES
class blogs
Clay Shirky
College
Colonel Eileen Collins
commenting
commitment
communication
Community
community
comparative
compassion
compensation
Comprehension
Comprhension
computers in the classroom
Constructivism
cookie
Copyright_infringement
Copyright_laws
Council of Conscience
creativity
Creativity
Creativity Conversation
Creativity Index
Cultivate
Dan Pink
death valley
Decision making
dennisar
Derailed
Disruptive Innovation
Divergent
dkuropatwa
Don Quixote
Dr. Jeff
Dr. Jeff Goldstein
Drive
dulcinea
Education
education
Education in the United States
educational change
Educational Leadership
educational leadership
educational technology leadership
Educators
effectiveness
Element
empathy
Enactivism
energy savings
Engage
engineering
Engineering
evaluation
evernote
evsc
Facebook
failure
Feedback
Festival
Film festival
firing
formative and summative assessments
Frank Smith
friendship
Future
Garr Reynolds
georgesiemens
Global
Golden Rule
Grades
green technology
heart
heart of a teacher
high school
High school
Higher Education
Higher Order Thinking Skills
hire
history
HOME
Home School Partnership
Homework
hospitals
humility
I Notice
Ian Jukes
Ideas
Identity crisis
imagination
Improvement
improvement
Indexing
influence
Innovation
innovation
innovation3
innovation3 llc
inspiration
instructional leadership
Interests
international
International Society for Technology in Education
interview
ipad
ISTE
Jayson Richardson
job
Job Readiness
John Seely Brown
K through 12
K-8
Karen Armstrong
karl fisch
kellychristopherson
Kent
leaderhhip coaching
leadershiop
leadership
Leadership
leadership development
leadership management influence
Leadership Resources
lean
learning
Learning
Learning 21st Century
legislation
Lifelong learning
Literacy
Literacy and Learning
Love
Man of La Mancha
management
math
math education
mathematics
Mathematics
mboe
Media literacy
medicine
mentoring
merit pay
mguhlin
Michael Watkins
Minds on Fire
moodle
Motivation
Movies
Multiple choice
NAESP
NASA
national educational technology plan
National Governors Association
NCESSE
Neil Rochelle
netbooks
NETS-A
Norma Rae
Nurture
Obama
one to one
online
online learning
Online Software
Originality
osu
Paradoxical Commandments
Parent Invovlement
Parent Partnership
passion
Passion Driven Classroom
Passion Education
Passion Leadership
performance
pete reilly
peter o'toole
Peter Senge
plagiarism
pln
PLN
plurk
Positive feedback
power
preconceptions
President Kennedy
Principal
principal
principal preparation
priorities
probability
Problem Solving
productivity
Professional development
publishing
read/write web
Reading
Reading Next
Reflection
reform
religion
reorganization
research
saving IT dollars
Schedules
school leadership
School Reform
schooling
science
Science
Scott McCloud
Scott McLeod
Second Life
self management
Seth Godin
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai
SIF
Sir Ken Robinson
sir ken robinson
SLC
Social Media
Social Networking
sophia loren
Standardized test
statistics
STEM
stephaniepacemarshall
stephendownes
strategy leadership
student achievement
student led conferences
suffering
summer
Switzerland
systemic change
teacher
Teacher
Teacher Professional Development
teachers
Teachers College Columbia University
teaching
Technology
technology
technology change
Technology integration
technology research
TED
TED Prize
textbooks
The First 90 Days
thin client
Thinking
Thomas Dewey
Tim Irwin
time management
Time To Act
transformation
transformative change
transitions
Tribes-We Need You To Lead Us
Twitter
twitter
Uniqueness
United States
University
University of Alabama-Birmingham
University of Kentucky
vacation
Value
Vision
vision
Wagner
walkthroughs
Web 2.0
Web Filtering
Webinar
weighting
Whole New Mind
wisdom
Wordle
workforce
World Read Aloud Day
Young People