Avoiding “Unmitigated Disasters”

Yet another

After stumbling upon the article, “Switch to e-books was ‘an unmitigated disaster,’ says school principal,” in my feed this past week, it occurred to me that there are increasingly predictable patterns surrounding stories of failed “innovation” in digital learning initiatives. Schools have been assigning computers to each child for some time now. And still, we continue to see stories like this in the media.

In short: we can do better.

Defining targets differently

The real target

But how? Unfortunately, none of these stories are terribly surprising. Many who read this article will likely slide straight into: “The HP Elite Pad? No wonder this was a disaster. That’s clearly the wrong device.” Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t recommend such a purchase for most classroom situations. My preferences over the past five years can likely be mined from the pages of this blog. But keep in mind: most outright failures of a digital learning initiative aren’t about the laptop/tablet you choose. I’ve noticed that time after time, most of these stories of failure in the media seem to arise from schools that set their sights upon a “digital conversion.” To me, this usually indicates a black hole of vision within the system. Making a massive systemwide purchase all in the name of trading out paper textbooks for digital textbooks is drawing your aim at the wrong target. Carefully consider this point: adopting computing devices as front-line learning tools is not the end game, it is one strategy in building a modern and responsive educational ecosystem.

It is true that a move from a dearth of access to one where every student is saddled with a laptop/iPad/Chromebook/etc. is a significant one. Because of this, it is easy to sit back and bask in the satisfaction of  tackling the access issue. It is certainly a celebration worth having. Computers are everywhere on day one of a 1:1 rollout. Access is the easiest box in the plan to check off. It is true that getting to this level of access requires significant logistical, financial, and political struggles. The real festivities should happen when, and not before, the entire learning environment has changed for the better. The issue at the heart of all this is where you want to be when all of these hurdles are cleared. If you cannot envision the details of the learning ecosystem you are seeking, go back and dig into what this means for a learning institution. The last thing you want to do is try to figure this out after every child and teacher possesses a digital device in support of yesterday’s educational ecosystem. Start at the top.


Get out the telescope

Ask yourself what it is you really want for the children in your charge. Are you still comfortable with the following?

  • Textbooks being the central resource for course content
  • Student tasks submitted for an audience of one: the teacher
  • Every child learning the same thing in time with every other child
  • “Creative” experiences consisting entirely of document creation
  • Online learning that consists of a checklist of independent tasks
  • School as defined by what is taught as opposed to what is learned
  • Measuring seat time and percentage grades as indicators of academic success

If you can say “yes” for many of the above, you might not find the logistical, financial, and political friction required by a move to 1:1 worth the trouble. If you’re still comfortable with many of these elements, you are still content with school as it has been for decades, and so often continues to be. Changing any of these characteristics takes more than a pocketbook and a five-step rollout plan. Developing educators as leaders on top of a shifting paradigm of what learning can be today is a far different task. This requires a plan with a robust framework for professional development and a built-in ability to be responsive to the needs of educators at each stage of the process.

We already know this to be true. Outstanding teachers effectively plan on two levels: 1) designing a long-term framework for learning built directly upon standards, that 2) includes a system of short-term responses to react to individual student needs based upon authentic formative assessment of learning. You read it right, a two-tiered plan involving both proaction and reaction. The best planning at any level involves a complex interplay between the two. The long-range and the short-term. The big picture as well as the detail. Education is serious business, huh?


Plug in the microscope

The same attention to proaction and reaction applies to the planning needed to move any learning organization into new territory. If you are truly no longer comfortable with the seven elements listed above, the next step is to dig into the details of your vision. Ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  • What resources for learning are available today? What would an ideal mix of resources consist of? Who is responsible for vetting said resources?
  • How can we best harness the power of the Internet to cultivate authentic audiences for student work and learning? What does open inquiry look like today?
  • What is the ideal progression of learning for a child? Do we plan for this at the student level? Do we react to this at the student level? How do we facilitate this?
  • What is an authentic learning task? What does creativity look like today? Does your definition extend beyond the realm of documents? How do you feel about digital “poster projects?” Study the TPACK & SAMR frameworks together.
  • Define “blended learning.” What do you think of when you hear the term, “online course?” What should define an “online course?” Where and how does conversation fit into the description? Talk about space and time. Talk about the Carnegie Unit.
  • Is a 1:1 implementation an opportunity to study standards-based grading? If you’re really daring, try considering… why grade?
  • Can you sketch three scenes depicting what your ideal school should look like? What is happening in those scenes? What is not? I’m really not kidding here. Do this. Don’t just discuss it. The value is in the slow process and the conversation.

If you really commit to an open study of these questions and tasks, then you will have a far clearer picture of what you believe today. You will possess the raw mental material for the next step. The next step will be to design the framework for the future. This is the fun part; the good stuff. This is the step I cannot even attempt to deliver generic bullet points for. This is the stage that, based upon your responses, moves in a unique direction for every learning community. How do you know when your educators are on the same page? How will you know your broader community understands what you’re trying to do? Quickly get beyond the jargon. Disclaimer: There is nothing inherently magical or official about the above set of mental metrics. They are merely questions I believe lie at the heart of this work.

It all comes back to your vision for and philosophy of learning. If you continue to see school as a top-down endeavor where knowledge is first owned by the teacher and then somehow magically transmitted into the brains of students, then that will guide (no: govern) your mission of bringing modern technology into classrooms. However, if research and experience have led you to the idea that perhaps real learning happens within the mind of the learner and is influenced by many inputs (one of which is a skilled teacher)… then you’ll likely make significantly different decisions for the future.


Design the process

This morning’s stream of thought reminds me of a post I logged four years or so ago. I can actually say I still stand behind those “four pillars” after considerable experience since that time. Like I said back then, “It’s not that dark in there anymore. Trust that there are others who have proceeded down this path before you, and they have learned many important lessons.” Get the right people into the room from the start. If you fear, “we don’t know what we don’t know,” get some outside experience into the room. Represent all levels of your organization. Think big, and think little. Ask the big questions first. Then work through the details before even mentioning “the device.” Many will want to jump there. Stay strong. Design protocols that help protect the conversation. Develop a true vision. Let it guide you. Under our best progressive lens “unmitigated disasters” rarely happen.


*”Defining targets differently” by Fritz Ahlefeldt-Laurvig on Flickr via CC
*”Untitled” by Brongaeh on Flickr via CC
*”Objectives” by Oliver Braubach on Flickr via CC
*”Business project drawn…” by Sergey Nivens purchased from Shutterstock.

EdWeekSJSD: A Litany of Thanks

The calm after the storm

I’m beat, but delightfully so. Deep learning is hard work. Designing an ecosystem in which others can learn deeply is even tougher. Teachers know this. I mean, pick your favorite food. Then eat five heaping plates of it. Back to back. If someone treated me to a week of epic seafood meals prepared by skilled chefs, I’d eat big every day. You don’t get that opportunity very often. Well…  we did that (again), and I’m tired. Next week I’ll revel in quiet solitude, no doubt reflecting on the intense social learning of the past week. This week was EdWeek.

EdWeekSJSD is but one small construct of the larger vision of professional development in our district. Sometimes in a large learning organization you design PD events where everyone sees, hears, and performs the same thing. You have to. There are times when we all need to be on the same crucial page. We need a core of common language around learning. We need a common vision at some level, and we need norms around the central mission of our schools.

Yet, like the students we serve, teachers are all individuals with differing needs and aptitudes. We could never meet the needs of 11,000 highly individual learners with a team of 900 identically-trained educators. In subscribing to that belief, on some level you must be willing to design constructs of learning that cater to these differences. EdWeek is one of those constructs. EdWeekSJSD is a series of day-long explorations into innovative and creative approaches to learning in a modern classroom. For more detail on the structure and happenings of this week, see the wiki from the past two years, as well as an explanatory post, There’s No Week Like EdWeek, I did last year in anticipation of our first experience of this type.

Thanks are in order:

We have so many thanks to give for the success of the past week. For one, if you were there at all, thank you. Trading in an off-contract day of basking in the summer sun is admirable. If you showed up at all, I salute you. Thank you for making all of the planning and preparation worthwhile. If you showed up for all five days, I am deeply humbled by your professional commitment and love of learning and sharing. I could go on and on about each of the past five days. The new things I learned, the collaboration I witnessed, and the open and public sharing that was done. Many of those details already exist online in reflective posts by my colleagues. Do me this favor, please post links to your work in the comments below, and I will embed those directly in a future edit to this post. For sharing in a collective reflection of this week, I thank you. I’ve already read many of these posts, and I couldn’t possibly detail those days any better. Nice work, Mike.

Digital writing matters

Troy Hicks, author of The Digital Writing Workshop, and Because Digital Writing Matters, took us on an exploration of the broader meaning of literacy on day one. Troy challenged us to see literacy as not only the ability to make deep meaning from reading and writing text, but other forms of rich media as well. For me, he drove home the point that literacy instruction in the classroom of today must make efficient and creative use of the many forms of media that blanket our lives like never before in our history.

Silvia, I thank you again

Joining us again this year, Silvia Tolisano reminded us that any approach to innovation with technology must begin with a focus on learning first, followed by careful selection of modern tools to do the job. She pushed us to consider uses of technology beyond the automation of substitution of current tasks. We both share the belief that using technology to maintain the classroom status quo is a prohibitively expensive proposition. What is beyond mere “integration” of digital tools? Using them to transform learning events into something that would not have been possible otherwise. A wiki that includes resources addressed that day gives you an idea of the broad scope and detail of those explorations. We’ll certainly soon be seeing some amplified classroom experiences for our children.

Learning to be

Our next two leaders were neighbors from the North. Darren Kuropatwa joined us this year from Winnipeg. I deeply admire approaches to learning that are multimodal and which feature rich instances of story. I especially appreciate these things when they arise from a career of motivating students to study mathematics in this way. He’s the math teacher I always wanted. He challenged us to create an environment where students aren’t merely doing math, or history, or science. The set of resources Darren thoughtfully planned to support our day is found here. He deftly made the case for empowering students to be… a mathematician, a historian, a scientist,  a writer. Thank you, Darren.

The seriousness of silliness and play

Dean Shareski made a return trip from Saskatchewan to Joetown this year with his fun and serious allwrappedintoone approach to learning and exploring media and ideas. You can’t spend professional time with Dean without making things. Experimentation and play was the theme of the day. We created artifacts, quickly, shared them widely, and debated where the learning lies within each. Check out the seven different forms of exploration from our day together. You can’t attend a session like this without re-examining your classroom tone, nor without acquiring new lenses for seeing the seriousness inherent within play and exploration. Dean- again, many thanks.

Now batting cleanup:

Diana Laufenberg. Diana brought the perspective of a powerfully creative teacher into our little meeting room…  and allowed us to swim around in it for a day. During the first half of the day, teachers found the tables turned as they took a reflective trip through what it feels like to be a student in her classroom. Diana helped us close out the week with a close examination of the architecture of and for learning she builds into her classroom. We also explored the benefits of participatory learning in a technology-savvy way and the crucial role of failure in any approach to learning. I’d be shocked if there was a single attendee who didn’t secretly wish to have experienced a government classroom that felt the way our room felt today. Thank you dearly, Diana.

Learners AND facilitators

Participating the entire week, and helping to facilitate it is a monster. You want to dig in and explore every single challenge. And yet, your role is also to help support a diverse room full of teachers with different needs. Just a short year ago, I was the lone instructional technology specialist in the room. With a massive bloom from four to fourteen 1:1 schools, we now have a real team to tackle our district’s burgeoning needs in this area. I can’t tell you how good that feels. We are gelling as a team in short order, and will have much to offer both individually and collectively as the coming year unfolds. Participate, facilitate, participate, facilitate. Focus on the task. Bounce about the room. Support. Comfort. Archive everything. Knowing just how difficult this is fills me full of appreciation of the work of Melissa CoreyTerri Johnson, and Jennifer Gatz. You were great this week, it wouldn’t have worked without you.

The die-hards

They just kept coming back. Just over one hundred teachers, coaches and administrators took part in the week’s festivities. An untold number lurked along via Twitter, Ustream, or Today’s Meet. A total of 38 participated in even more than one event. A few came back… every. single. day. What if you took them all to a conference like ISTE, and assuming the experience was equal to such a conference, (which is severely lowballing it) think about what that would cost. Do the math. Of the 38 repeat customers, 11 completed the full meal deal. Other than those of us who were participant/facilitators, there were six die-hards. Mike DialCindy FaucettErin NashMandi TolenJason Tolen, and Chantelle Schwope attended EdWeek in its entirety… all five days from 8am to 3pm. Epic. That is not easy. I have homeland knowledge of the fact that one of these folks was also simultaneously juggling two online graduate courses.

Opt-in professional learning, off-contract and in the summer. I begged for this two years ago. Not everyone believed this would fly. It was possible that no one would attend. It works if the design is right. Thanks to Dr. Dial’s trust and willingness to carve out a chunk of resources, it finally happened for the first time a year ago. This past week, EdWeekSJSD happened again; a hypodermic shot of innovation and creativity in an increasingly standardized world. Like I said, I’m beat, but delightfully so.


*”Twins” by Jon Smith via Creative Commons on Flickr
*The remainder were taken by either Jaime Dial or I.



There’s No Week Like EdWeek

Play along?

Repeat the title in your head a few times. Did you get an odd desire to click your heels together? If so, it would be understandable. If you truly believe in the sentiment that “there’s no place like home,” then you would be directly channeling one of the main themes of this post. What might the others be? Personally, I love to travel, but I also love home-field advantage. Also: I love to learn. Follow below as I briefly highlight an exciting upcoming week of learning for local educators… one that even includes a day where folks from our wider region are invited to share in an informal exchange that is commonly referred to as an unconference. But first, if you’re local, you’d better click over to the Edweek SJSD wiki. Open slots are going fast.

Not in kansas anymore...


Our district is currently in a very interesting place and time. We have a couple of building-level initiatives that have readied staff and students for the creation of a 1:1 ecosystem. The essence of that reality is one where the entire community is equipped with a laptop and empowered to utilize digital tools to transform learning in ways we cannot currently deliver. By this time next year, we will likely have 1:1 schools representing all three levels (elementary, middle, high). While we no doubt still need a certain amount of boot-camp type catch up to do in support of those plans, we also have early-adopters and innovators to support at a different level. Much in the same way we now expect it for our children, we owe it to our staff to provide differentiated opportunities for learning and development. Consider this week a squirt of gasoline onto the fires of those staff members ready to push forward with innovation at this time.

EdWeek SJSD - nashworld

Format is everything

Can opt-in PD work in the Summer? We’re betting it can and will with this format. In fact, a couple of the sessions are already nearly full, and the others are filling up fast. And all this for a week in June? Wait: don’t they know this event is still two months away? Don’t these educators know that Summer break will have already begun by that time? It seems as if we have some people anxious for this type of experience with these sort of session leaders. More on our four guests later. So what’s so great about the format?

In short: everything. Think back to the last conference you attended. Walking into your room, finding a place to sit, and doing just that… sitting for an hour or ninety minutes before packing your things, getting up… and walking to the next room to do the same. In that typical format, real transfer of learning is hard to come by. After a few hours it can all start to blur together. That approach certainly can work for some things, but for many types of deep learning, you have to be very disciplined to emerge from the typical conference with anything close to “deep learning.” Finally, what about logistics? Sure, air travel to far away cities can be exciting and fun, but have you priced what it takes to send a couple of people to a conference several states away? Registration, airfare, room & board, etc. Imagine sending a couple hundred people to the same conference. Impossible.


If you’re a Dad like me, yet another three day weekend away from my adorable females is a tough sell at times. So, we decided to bring the conference home to Saint Joseph. There’s something to be said for sleeping in your own bed. There’s also something to be said for learning in the same room for an entire day, from the same gifted leader. In fact, there’s something to be said for actually experiencing and interacting in the learning event, as opposed to merely seeing or hearing about it. And what about being in the same room with 60 of your local district colleagues, all experiencing something new, in depth, and then having a huge body of future collaborators emerge from the room at 3:00pm? Finally, there is also something be said for the economics of it all. Several hundred district educators to the same conference? Good luck trying it any other way.

The week at a glance

Rather than spell it all out here again, I’ll be smart and point you to the EdWeek wiki. Be sure to check out the day-long sessions listed by date/session leader over in the right sidebar. Clicking those will land you on a page for each session complete with bio, and as time goes by, more and more information about the session for that day. In short, four friends I have learned much from in the past will be visiting us that week.  I have interacted and shared with them both digitally and face to face, in conference sessions and informally. I really can’t wait to introduce them to you, and you to them.

Karl Fisch will be coming to us from Colorado, and kicking off the week for us on Monday. Skipping for a moment to Wednesday, we will have Silvia Tolisano in from Florida. Thursday brings another Coloradoan in Michael Wacker, and our week will be wrapped up on Friday with a visit by Dean Shareski from Saskatchewan, Canada. The wildcard of the week, is Tuesday. On Tuesday, we will be holding a local unconference in the Early Childhood section of the Webster Learning Center. That might just be the most different day of all in terms of overall format (in some ways). Please read my description of the day and try to imagine it in your head. After attending a similar event this past Autumn, I had several teachers ask, “why can’t we do this back home in our own district?” My reply:  “we can.” And so we will. I think you’ll like it. In fact, due to the fact that this day could easily accomodate more participants, we will soon be opening up this day to our regional friends. You know who you are, right?

So, go…  check out the schedule, see what you can attend, and register online. Other than the unconference, all sessions will be capped at 60 participants in order to make sure the sessions have the setup required for truly active learning. I, for one, can’t wait.

EdWeek SJSD - nashworld


*”Not in Kansas anymore…” by DrStarbuck on Flickr.
*”Presentations.” by peruisay on Flickr.

Online Learning Networks in Science – An Interview

In keeping with the concept of using this blog as not only a synthesis of what I think, but also of what I do, I add this post. Last week I recorded a telephone interview with the folks at natureEDUCATION on the topic of online learning networks in science education. The time I spent on the phone with Ilona Miko, Senior Scientific Editor for Life Sciences, made me realize why it is that she is doing the podcast and I typically stick to the printed (digitally) word. She’s a pro from the word go.

You wouldn’t think I have a fear of publishing or sharing in any way. And yet, I’ve always had a distaste for the sound of my own voice. I cherish real human communication. I thrive on face to face chats…  even virtual versions via Skype, etc. However, hearing a recorded version of my voice always reminds of of Kermit the frog with laryngitis. Perhaps even share-junkies have their Achilles heel. Now that I think about it, considering my avatar, some of you might even see the first image of my mug where I appear sane.

Nature EdCast

Scitable is an open online collaborative learning space within the nature publishing group. If you are a science teacher, or you know one, you’d be doing a favor by forwarding the link to a friend or colleague. NatureEdCast is a podcast featuring some interesting folks from many perspectives.  If you get a chance, check out some of the previous twelve episodes here.  I’m honored to have been selected to share a few minutes on this program. I think I sound like I’m having a phone conversation (complete with near giggles a couple of times), but hey… I guess I actually was. By the end I think we hit on some issues that are important to the world of education, and even science education in particular.  See what you think.

If I had to pick the one thing from the episode I’m most proud of, it would be the fact that although the title features the text “Online Learning Networks,” a significant portion of the program is about students being outdoors, on-site, in nature, and learning with all five senses. Living online is not my style. I’d never want to build a name for that. Although, if done well, extending our classrooms through space and time into the digital world can enhance learning for all students. For that, I’ll sign my name.


Principals as Teachers Part II – Early feedback

Once again

Yesterday in “Principals as Teachers” I pitched a general proposal that would encourage and empower principals to cross some artificial lines we have created in the business of public schooling.  Sure, we could have allowed building principals all along to retain the teacher hat and with it-  many of the potential benefits I spoke of yesterday.  I’m sure it’s done somewhere.  Odds are, it almost has to take place, right?  We’re a big, diverse country that has invented more than one way to tackle a problem.  Actually, now that I think down this line, it must be at least a strange enough idea that I don’t personally know a school system that has done this.  I’m sure they’re out there.  There’s no way the idea of allowing an administrator to retain a classroom is that bizarre.

Surely the entirety of our public school system isn’t as monotonously vanilla as to not have any school system at least experimenting along these lines.  It’s an info-rich world out there.  In my experience, if you can think it, there’s a good chance that you’re not the first…  and that makes someone out there somewhere…  your potential best friend to come.  Or hey, perhaps it’s that out-of-bounds.  Perhaps I finally found a really edgy proposition that rides the true margin of what is being done.  Not likely.  I understand statistics better than that.  I’d love to chat with administrators who have retained the “teaching” hat in their school.  I’d love to hear the pros and cons from someone with insider knowledge.  Anyone?

Earth Science Distance Learning Event

The whole thing reminds me to the “distance learning” discussions that were once had in my district (and elsewhere) once the technology to allow such a thing had finally matured.  If a gadget is out there…  I can promise you we have one somewhere in a closet.  You know the drill:

  • Step 1) Plop a teacher in front of a camera in one building.
  • Step 2) Sit kids in rows around a massive TV monitor in the same place in another building all at the same time.
  • Step 3) Essentially add electricity and awkwardness to a nearly century-old instructional model that has outlasted its match to society.

I avoided that scenario like the plague in its day.  To some it sounded edgy and forward-thinking.  To me, it would have stifled the open classroom environment that I work so hard to create.  I’m glad the shine of that promise has dulled a bit.  Don’t get me wrong, if you’re in a rural area with little else to do in order to get the coursework your students desperately desire, that approach might still be worth the effort.

Fast forward to the past five years or so when freely-accessible, digital, two-way communication tools became ubiquitous.  Many of those tools allow a pretty slick asynchronous connection as well.  At the very least, the addition of read/write digital tools today could add an element of interactivity and presence “outside of class” to make such a venture meaningful today.  It is the advent of these various simple tools that allow an interplay between synchronous and asynchronous communication modes that I believe brings us to the realm of feasibility.  And by feasibility here, I mean… getting some smart cookies back into a classroom experience of sorts.  Getting more smart folks into the game at the ground level will help keep us from ever heading recklessly down a path of fully online instruction until we can do so to a high standard.

Barbershop Quartet

Initial feedback

Before pitching ideas that seem to come from fuzzy internal space, I tend to find my favorite filters.  By “filters” I mean trusted colleagues who will shoot me straight.  I think it’s important not to filter everything you wish to assert, but when stepping out of the box a bit, it helps to seek the advice of friends in the know.  Having smart and passionate friends is a good thing.  I highly recommend it.

The first person I pitched these ideas to was Roberta Dias, a friend of mine and principal of Bode Middle School in Saint Joseph.  She’s been a trusted friend and a model administrator for years.  Roberta said that she agreed on many of the aspects of such a plan.  However, she added a really excellent addition with regard to collaboration and personal learning.  In her feedback, she said that rather than teach a course she was personally certified in (Business Ed.), she would rather team with someone teaching science since that is the subject area where she is charged with facilitating district professional development.  To me, that idea was golden.  No better way for an administrator in charge of PD to see the ground floor aspects of its application.  Roberta seemed to think that even though some might balk at the additional work load, this might be valuable enough to warrant such a thing.

Luke McCoy is the Assistant Principal of Benton High School.  I’m pleased to say that I’ve been able to work side by side with Luke for the past couple of years.  He is a thoughtful and considerate leader.  He rarely jumps to conclusions and often returns to a discussion after much thought and reflection.  That is exactly what Luke did in this case as well.  In his words, “…after I got past the whoa, dude, I have three little kids and zero extra time…  night supervision, committee work, etc., I came up with the following.”  Below is a synopsis of Luke’s replies:

  • I would LOVE to collaborate with another administrator on something like this.  I think we’d learn a ton in the process.  Talk about breaking down some walls.  Our district needs those walls broken down, in my opinion.
  • I think we could also offer PD to staff in such a fashion.  We’re not far from that.
  • Collaborating with a teacher on an online course would be very interesting.  The conversations that are limited because I am no longer a direct practitioner anymore would suddenly have more juice.
  • Credit recovery courses?  (and not from a can!?! <=my emphasis)
  • What about a summer course for incoming freshmen when we go 1:1 that really preps them for the upcoming adventure of high school?  That would certainly be a hook for getting the computer early.  If the first taste of high school was such positive instructional interaction (in their world) with a master teacher or administrator… can you imagine?
  • This might also impact my relationship with staff members.  I would be forced to talk instructionally with a variety of folks beyond what I currently do.  Asking questions, seeking advice, the opportunity for real collaboration.  Takes a principal “from the wheelhouse to the rail.” (Deadliest Catch reference).  This could help change the climate of a building.

Deadliest Catch's Sea Star

I’ll let Luke comment on any of the rest, as he continued to stream in new thoughts and ideas via email after our initial back and forth.  The final featured feedback I will mention come from Corey Vorthmann and Jeanette Westfall.  The initial feedback from Corey & Jeanette was more focused on the inability to devote their true attention to teaching when they have such a steady list of duties already.  To be honest, this is more of what I thought I’d receive from building administrators.  I’ve seen what they face during the day, and I understand the hesitation to look at wearing another hat…  even if it is a favorite hat from days past.  Corey and I chatted via Facebook chat and forgive me for not taking notes, but we were likely both tired.  It was late.  In busy times, I could only connect with Jeanette, co-principal of Benton High School via a series of emails.  Again, Jeanette’s first reply was closer to what I thought I might get from many building administrators.  At the end of a long and frustrating day, she provided an excellent litany of the potential frustrations and challenges of principals as teachers.  Like I said, these are people that will tell me I’m off if I’m off.

The very next day I received another email that started out “oh wow…,” that sought to deliver a more rounded appraisal of such an endeavor.  She said, “I find the idea very intriguing.  I like the connection with kids.  That in itself lures me.  I do wonder if I would enjoy doing this outside of the scheduled school day, but I suppose if I were compensated it would be much like teaching a college class.”  She then went on to say, “Does that change what my teachers think of me?  I don’t necessarily think so.  I think that can even work against you in some ways.”

So at least I now have this idea “on paper” so to speak.  I tend to use this blog very personally and do not market it in such a lean way as to draw a large readership, nor to get everyone to read every post to its intended end.  I use this space as a way to think…  to reflect…  to share…  and sometimes to lay out the foundation of projects, beliefs, assertions, or policy changes I’d like to see.  If you’re reading this far into this two-post adventure, you are in too deep.  I promise lighter and more universal fare next week.  ;)


*”Earth Science Distance Learning Event with Dr. James Hansen” by NASA Goddard Photo and Video on Flickr
*”Barbershop Quartet” by Eric Kilby on Flickr
*”Deadliest Catch’s Sea Star” by Shawn McClung on Flickr