“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.
I was honored this year to be asked once again to blog for the AASA National Conference on Education #NCE17. This excellent conference is the one I make sure I get to year after year. With its rich content, keynote speakers who are relevant to my needs, and colleagueship, I could not find a more fitting setting for my own professional development.
This year’s conference was titled: Leadership- Personalized, Accountable, Visionary. We had keynote speakers such as Ravi ,James Carville and Mary Matalin, and Jamie Vollmer. There were dozens of sessions for me to focus my own learning (I chose to focus on support for principals for a high achieving district). There were opportunities for colleagueship (Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Hampshire, California, Oregon were all places with superintendents I talked with).
The next step, of course, is to sift through all the nuggets of information I received these past two days and determine what will improve my own practice as a leader of learning. This is always the goal of professional development- how will it improve my own practice. In RNESU, we have been working to reconstruct how we provide PD to our faculty, with more choice and more voice while still focusing on how we will help all children achieve in the SU schools.
The key? Show up, absorb, reflect and then do!
The Otter Valley Unified Union and Barstow Unified Union Boards have begun the budget process for 2017-18. With a newly merged district, we are looking for ways we can be more efficient with staffing and resources. One example of this is our ability this year to hire a single academic interventionist who is able to serve 3 schools: Whiting, Leicester and Sudbury, building one position instead of several part time positions. We are also looking at providing some library services at these school by sharing time with a larger school. With our new model, we can look for ways to staff more efficiently, which provides more equitable programming for our students as well as fiscal efficiency for our taxpayers. If you would like to be involved in the budget discussions, now is the time! Watch our website calendar for board meetings in December and early January, which is where discussions will take place and decisions will be made.