On View of Education: Vol. 3 – Leadership

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As a member of a teaching staff, I marched to my own beat as a believer in need for reform across many aspects of education. In discussions, I was often the contrarian in the group. One person described me as, the best devil’s advocate she had ever been around. Of course, I countered her comment that I wasn’t being the devil’s advocate because I was just being myself.

In the world of educational conformity, I was often the voice in the wilderness. I spoke my mind, and a few of my past colleagues who read these pages will think – Yep, he said that.

Packing to move provides an opportunity to sort, discard, and organize. I kept some of my writings from my teaching days, thus recently gathered some of the quotes, most of which were written between 1987-2001.

Some will cheer while others jeer. Some will detect a passion, others will think, Oh no, he’s one of those. You may disagree with some, all, or possibly none … and that’s OK – after all, I’ve handled dialogue on sensitive subjects before. But keep in mind, because we may disagree, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – thus it just means we disagree.

Below is a collection of quotes with each standing on its own so I’ve numbered them only for reference.

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Today’s Topic: Leadership
1) Listening to the administrators and school boards across this state promote to their public how well their schools are doing causes me to ask this question: If schools are doing so well, why do we need to change?

2) Statements as look how far we’ve come are excuses for the status quo, grand illusions of change, and lack any vision of where to go. When examining where we’ve been, the point of comparison should be where we need to go – not the past.

3) Even if a mindset of reform or even progress toward reform took place in a department, a grade level, or a building staff, would central office let it continue? I’m not so sure because our district’s leaders understand reform, but they don’t believe it. Their beliefs are demonstrated by their actions, and those action don’t demonstrate a restructuring attitude. Too much time whitewashing creates an illusion. They will take credit for success, then painfully point the figure to others when something falls down. Sugar coating numbers only dulls the pain, but cures nothing.

4) Is the educational system too much of a dinosaur to move? (Too much inertia fits.) Probably so. The system is very political, so leaders cannot take risks, and change is way too risky of a proposition. Then again, the lack of leadership coupled with a lack of vision will keep education wollering in the mud of mediocrity while continuing to promote the false illusions of success and change.

5) Central Office leadership tells us that some kids need more time to achieve, and should get it without penalty. On the other hand, building leadership tells us grades need to be completed by a certain time on a certain day. This is an example of what one says doesn’t match with what one does. Therefore, no matter what Central Office says, entering “Incomplete” to give a student more time is not really an alternative.

6) Because I use Crisco oil, I’m just as qualified to lead Crisco production as the public is to run education.

7) Teachers and all level of administrators say students are their top concern. I disagree because students should be the top concern of teachers, while teachers are top concern of building administrators, and building administrators are the top concern of district administrators – thus calling this “semantics” is BS.

8) The public runs education and government. What does the public complain about the most? Education and government.

9) Isn’t good administrator an oxymoron?

Previous posts in the series

On Views of Education: Vol. 2 – Change

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As a member of a teaching staff, I marched to my own beat as a believer in need for reform across many aspects of education. In discussions, I was often the contrarian in the group. A person described me as, the best devil’s advocate she had ever been around. I countered her comment that I wasn’t being the devil’s advocate, just being myself.

In the world of educational conformity, I was the voice in the wilderness. I spoke my mind, and a few of my past colleagues who read these pages will think – Yep, he said that.

Packing to move provides an opportunity to sort, discard, and organize. I kept some of my writings from my teaching days, thus recently gathered some of the quotes, most of which were written between 1987-2001.

Some will cheer while others jeer. Some will detect a passion, others will think Oh no, he’s one of those. You may disagree with some, all, or possibly none … and that’s OK – after all, I’ve handled dialogue on sensitive subjects before. But keep in mind, because we may disagree, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – thus it just means we disagree.

Below is a collection of quotes with each standing on its own so I’ve numbered them only for reference.

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Today’s Topic: Educational Change
1) Change is a journey, not a blueprint. Change is loaded with uncertainty, difficulties, and excitement. Change is hard and it takes a lot of time and energy. In the difficult times of change, three keys are necessary to keep the process moving toward the vision: the presence of a vision, support, and encouragement. Because education reacts to immediate needs, it has a long tradition of short sidedness, education lacks the long-term commitment that is necessary to implement change. So let’s embrace following further behind society.

2) I’m not pro-teacher, not pro-student, not pro-community, and for God’s sake not pro-administrator … but I am pro-outcomes and pro-processes that leads to benefits for the students and society. Thus the mismatch: producing an early 20th century product for a 21st century world.

3) Change is difficult. Some will refuse to travel the journey, yet others will reverse course along the way, which also means some will not survive – yet the strongest, the committed will arrive to establish a new way.

4) The body of knowledge continues to grow, but school processes remain relatively unchanged.

5) Society’s It-Was-Good-Enough-For-Me Club will prevent change from occurring, so pseudo-reform will occur to create an illusion of change rather than change itself.

6) At best, reform has simply been a “tinkering” of the old system; whereas restructuring involves overhauling the existing system to establish a new operating structure.

7) Given the amount of change needed, the educational system would be best served by shutting down for a year to reorganize and retool.

8) Change is more than a determining if we are going to have a Homeroom period or not. After all, the best reason for not having one is to put it back in place down the road.

Previous posts in the series

Reform

On Views of Education: Vol 1 – Reform

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As a member of a teaching staff, I marched to my own beat as a believer in need for reform across many aspects of education. In discussions, I was often the contrarian in the group. One person once described me as the best devil’s advocate she had ever been around. I countered her comment that I wasn’t being the devil’s advocate, just being myself.

In the world of educational conformity, I was often the voice in the wilderness. I often spoke my mind, and a few of my past colleagues who read these pages will think – Yep, he said that.

Packing to move provides an opportunity to sort, discard, and organize. I kept some of my writings from my teaching days, thus recently gathered some of the quotes, most of which were written between 1987-2001.

Some will cheer while others jeer. Some will detect a passion, others will think Oh no, he’s one of those. Readers may disagree with some, all, or possibly none … and that’s OK – after all, I’ve handled dialogue on sensitive subjects before. But keep in mind, because we may disagree, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – thus it just means we disagree.

Below is a collection of quotes with each standing on its own, so I numbered them only for reference.

Today’s Topic: Reform
1) Schools are still using an industrial age model in an attempt to prepare students for a rapidly changing future. By keeping this model, schools are racing against each other to see who has the most souped-up Model T. Yet, some districts have been successful at placing a Corvette body on the outside to give it a better appearance … but it’s still a Model T.

2) Teaching 21st Century skills in an early 20th Century model is simply impossible. How can the educational system change when it spend so much time and effort promoting how well it’s doing? Understanding change is one thing, but showing a belief through actions is another. My prediction? Education will continue on the path of illusion because too much inertia exists.

3) The need for educational change is well documented. Ways to change are well documented. Forward-thinking approaches challenging the status quo are well documented. Reason why change doesn’t occur are well documented? Now is the time for significant change to begin …. so, why don’t we? Oh, resistance to change is also well documented.

4) At best, reform has simply been a “tinkering” of the old system; whereas restructuring involves overhauling the existing system to establish a new operating structure.

5) A simple five-part plan: 1) Develop the desired outcomes based on societal needs, not established curriculum 2) developed a competency-based mastery-approach to evaluation, 3) focus the curriculum to meet those outcomes, 4) restructure the school day and the school calendar, and 5) make the student and their parents responsible for their actions and choices.

6) A mission statement is 1) a guiding principle for all decision-making in an effective organization, and 2) a requirement for accreditation. Which is worse? a) lack of a mission statement or b) failure to implement the existing mission statement.