“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” ~Albert Einstein
How do we keep from doing the same thing over and over? We learn, we grow, we ask.
Our schools need different results. Our education system has been approaching students the same way for over 100 years. We work within a credit system that uses seat time and is designed to “sort” students into industrial jobs that no longer exist. We require every student to learn the same thing, even though we lose some along the way. We continue to accept “average” or “mediocre”, telling ourselves we are doing well because of a few top students who make us look good. Change is hard to come in public schools. Yet public schools remain the best opportunity for our society to improve, for each child to reach their potential.
This was a major theme I took away from my time at AASA’s National Conference on Education this week. Sessions on educational equity (kudos to North Clackamas, OR Schools and Supt Matthew Utterback for the great work leading the way), keynote speakers such as Todd Rose (The End of Average) and Doris Kearns Goodwin (Leadership Lessons from the White House) ignite reflection.
Professional Development opportunities such as this conference and the ability to network with colleagues facing the same challenges as I push me to reflect more, innovate, and refresh. How do I bring this information back to my district? How do ensure our faculty is also refreshed and reflective, in order to assure we are providing an inclusive, equity based learning environment for all students? Professional development, whether individual, district based, collegiate or national, is a powerful way to ignite excitement, innovation, different ways of thinking.
In RNESU schools we have been studying the brain based model of learning. We have focused a great deal of time on mental models. Professional development opportunities is how we offer different mental models, how we can consider how things might be different and how we might get there. It can be hard to step off the tracks for a moment and be open to learning something new. But unless we do so periodically, we are doomed to insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.