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Expanding the Community

After all the wonderful conversations this past weekend about what education and learning could be, today it was back to reality.

But on the drive home from Philadelphia, I was thinking about what I saw and heard at SLA and about which of those pieces could be used to improve other schools.

For one thing, the school breathes life into Gary Stager’s first step to real educational reform: make it less about us and more about them.

I’ve never seen a school, where there is such a sense of community and collaboration. Students and staff at SLA really seem to be equal partners in the learning.

Another thing great schools need is a strong leader as principal – so I’m thinking maybe we could clone Chris. :-)

Ok, so that’s not very practical. Instead we need to work to help our administrators understand that more trust in our kids and giving them more control over their own education can actually improve their learning. Test scores, too.

However, more than anything else we need to continue and expand the discussions that began this weekend.

Improving education from the outside has never worked, not in my lifetime. The only way anything is going to change is by working from the inside.

We need to continue to expand the community of educators that was in Philadelphia this past weekend.

educon20, school, reform

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4 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more, and it became painfully clear today as we held the second of three faculty interviews for a new lower division principal at my school. I left thinking, “where’s the passion?” Chris definitely holds the patent on passion in administrators.

    Wendy

  2. Tim,
    I created a group on Classroom 2.0 on Ning for people interested in continuing to reflect on their Educon experiences: http://www.classroom20.com/group/educon20
    Please join us there.
    -Liz

  3. “Instead we need to work to help our administrators understand that more trust in our kids and giving them more control over their own education can actually improve their learning. Test scores, too.”

    I agree. We need to help administrators in seeing the need for change in how we see education. However, Chris is in a unique situation and, given the perameters that he has, there are a few administrators that I believe could be very successful. How about, instead of just getting to the administrators, let’s talk to ALL the stakeholders – let them all in on the changes that need to be created. Help them to see what can be achieved. There are many administrators who, unfortunately, are not so lucky. Who have passions and desire but who are handcuffed by so many strings and roadblocks. Indeed, get all superintendents and directors to support administrators like Chris is given support and I bet we’d see sweeping change in many areas and many ways. I applaud what Chris is doing and the success he has had but, as an administrator working hard with a great passion for my students, staff and community, I am trying and swimming against a very strong and powerful tide that sometimes threatens to put me under and so I have to tread water and reverse direction in order to make little gains that will last.

  4. Tim

    Kelly, I fully understand the feeling of swimming against the current. I work in the middle of a large bureaucracy which often seems more interested in maintaining the status quo than education.

    However, I love having a school like the Science Leadership Academy from which to draw ideas and inspiration. It makes it easier to get more of those little gains that piece together into bigger steps.

    And then there’s Educon. The meetup ended just a couple of days ago and I’m already seeing some of the ripple effect. Several administrators within our system have mentioned being referred to the video discussions from the conference and they’ve asked for more information. Not a big change but one in the right direction.

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