(This is the Monday Focus to my staff this week. I thought I would push it out to all. Enjoy!)
I have a new tool that I am using for professional development and it is the app, Voxer. This nifty app is like a walkie-talkie, so a bunch of us are using it for a book chat using the book, Digital Leadership by my friend Eric Sheninger. (I blogged about it here.) As we are going through the chapters, we are talking about change, change leadership and then one of us brings up TTWWADI in chapter 2.
You are probably wondering, “What is TTWWADI?” It’s that saying, “But, that’s the way we’ve always done it.” I cringe when I hear that from educators. Really? TTWWADI doesn’t work. It is a closed or fixed mindset. It means that folks are not willing to grow, be open to change, and look to make it better for kids!
This past year, we have had lots of change. We have looked at how we are teaching and still are reflecting to meet the needs of our students. We are changing times to help improve transportation for our kiddos. Some think, “Why change?” Let’s look at what is happening with our students sitting there for 30 minutes on a bus. Is it really good for kids when some of our babies can’t hold it anymore and spoil themselves? How about how we are servicing our special education students? Can we do better and have teachers work together within the classroom to help our students access the curriculum? Wouldn’t that be easier for two teacher to co-teach and deliver and differentiate instruction rather than one teacher pulling her hair out trying to service the diverse population? We had change forced down on us and changed our standards to embrace the CCSS. We are moving ahead and working together to make it better for ALL students and aligning curriculum. Just because it is a change in the curriculum doesn’t mean it does not have to be creative and innovative. We need to look outside the box and make the modules MORE engaging for our students. APPR has been a change and we had to adjust to that, with me beating my drum and being the biggest cheerleader because I know you all are more than a score. We will have change in the master schedule, having our grade levels scheduled to allow for maximum time for teaching and placed on the master schedule into SchoolTool so we can accommodate the times. No more creating your own schedule, it’s done for you! Hip, Hip Hooray! We are looking to a rubric based report card K-5, because grades really aren’t working! How about homework? Can that change, or are some folks going to continue to be punitive if kids don’t get it completed? My question to that is, is it really working or will you continue TTWWADI?
I guess what I am getting at is this: How can we be more effective and give the best to our students who are now 14 years into the 21st century, have them efficiently and effectively access the curriculum, and continue to have engaging, creative and innovative lessons as well as keeping the social and emotional curriculum? Not easy! Are we still going to stand for the same-ole standardization and clogging of creativity and innovation or are we going to break the mold and embrace the change ahead, use the tools available to us to create engaging lessons and differentiate instructions for all learners? Are we going to have that mentality or belief that, “Oh, Johnny is so low, he can’t do the work, let’s quickly slap an IEP on him” or are we going to differentiate our practice and work smarter? What models can we use to help all of our students and work together to make it easier for us, or are we going to worry about that APPR score and not what is best for kids? Are we going to be quick to get rid of a student because he is being so distracting in the classroom and send him to the office where he probably wants to be because it is so hot, and the office is air conditioned, (something to think about) or are we going to work together and find ways to help our students and work to see what the triggers are and work on social and emotional behaviors?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not pointing fingers at anyone and I think what we have done this year is amazing and you all want what is best for kids. But, are we reflecting and making the right decisions and trying to make it even better? Or are we going to say, nope, not my problem or can we take it further and make it better for kids and stop worrying about that damn APPR score? I get a score too, but it is not the end all be all. It can’t hinder what we can do and what is best for kids. We have to revamp curriculum. So what! We did that before and will continue to do it and yes, we have a State test, but good teaching is good teaching! We cannot afford to be stifled and continue to be in a 19th or 20th century model! When you get down to it, it’s about what is best for kids. Isn’t that why we went into education? I sure did and I am ready to forge ahead.
Change is not easy. Change is not going to stop, not as long as I am at East Side. Check out what Eric writes about jobs and why schools need to change: ” Jobs available today have changed radically due to the rise of globalization, the continuous surge of outsourcing by many businesses and industries, increasing immigration, and a flattened world. (Friedman, 2005). Schools need to change in the face of this challenge if they are to create the next generation of entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians, and engineers who work in a technology-rich and technology-driven world. With this modern workforce as the goal, what do we want our schools to look like? Why do we need to change? Are we doing what’s best to meet the needs of ALL of our learners who have grown up in the digital age with ubiquitous access to information? If we are to change, we must be willing to shed some strongly embedded ideals, opinions, and behaviors that have shaped our schools for over a century The consensus has to be that every student can and should learn, and that educators must learn how to push them to become ever better.”
Let’s not get into the TTWWADI trap. (Not that we are, I just don’t want to go there!) It doesn’t work. We are educators – we are born to do this. Let’s work together, grow together, and be the best of the best for our kids, because that is the #1 factor. You are the best! We can do this because we are a great team. Embrace change and let’s make it better for our kids! Be a risk taker. Don’t be afraid of failure, because you know what, that is how we learn and we have each other for support! Enjoy the week!