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Here are some questions for you Bill...does the quality of your teaching or what you do because you make money as an expert suffer? Does your school district lose out in any way because you write books or present? OR, does it actually build prestige for the district that they have an "expert" in their schools? Does having a passion beyond the classroom make you less of a teacher, or in fact, a better one? I want my teachers to do things that they LOVE outside of their jobs because that makes them more real to the kids they serve. Jesse McLean is a phenomenal teacher and a great college basketball coach and we all know that great coaches and great coaches have many things in common. He gets paid to coach so does that lessen him as a teacher? Honestly dude, do what makes you happy, and if you get paid for it, why is that a bad thing? Congratulations on the book!
Do you know what I find that is ironic in all of my travels? That the educators that REALLY want this technology in this classroom, have so many amazing ideas of what they could do that would be transformative, and the teachers that have the technology feel like they were not prepared to teach with it. This is not a 100% rule, but it is definitely two things that I hear A LOT in my travels. Kind of weird hey?
Here is the funny thing about your post...I don't know if I agree with the idea of "flipping" and what it brings to the classroom or schools. My fear from it is that it is making people take their own personal time to do school stuff and REALLY pushing them to focus a lot on school being the most important thing, as opposed to our lives. Here is the other thing...I have never done it so I don't really go out there and criticize it either. How could I? It would be the same as saying Physics is stupid; I have no idea about Physics but I know there is something good that comes out of it. I remember a few years ago i was critical of people putting a "weekly email" on a blog because I had no idea why they would do something like that. But then I did it. And it was awesome. I in fact still do it this day with my "You Should Read" posts. So from that experience, I have learned to ask questions and think critically about initiatives in education, but do not criticize until I see it or put it in action. (I also learned the lesson years ago when I said Twitter was useless in the first place.) Thanks for the post. Your learning space is your learning space. Do whatever you need to do to get better. G
I love these ideas but think you should change the term "faculty meetings". As soon as we hear that, it already sounds boring. There are some management things that happen and meetings need to exist (although not to the extent that they do), but this is staff learning time. Schools NEED to do this more often. Focus on leadership and learning, not management. Thanks for the awesome ideas!
Again, I love your writing. If you haven't seen this Barry Schwartz Ted Talk, it is definitely applicable to what you are discussing:
Bill, An amazing tribute to obviously an amazing man. Thank you for sharing this as he will continue to inspire many. My thoughts are with you and I am sorry for your loss. George
Toggle Commented Mar 5, 2012 on This One's for You, Dad. at The Tempered Radical
Hey Bill, I loved your post but it is interesting that I read the book (and loved it) and have a different view on what is being said. All of the things that you are talking about are spot on, but I do not feel that it is any way an attack on teachers, as it is the system that we work in. What I got from it was that teachers were actually the ANSWER to the solutions here but you are right, they do not have the power in many situations to make a change. In our system that we are trying to create within our own division, we are trying to be transparent and create leaders in all facets. Trusting people within our system and giving them the opportunity to make change is what is going to really help push education forward. To enable this, the system has to change, and give the same opportunities to teachers that teachers are trying to give to students. I wrote about it here: I think that you are absolutely right on some of the things that you are pointing out, but I did not see it as an attack on teachers but more of the system that is constricting them. Just my two cents.
Bill, Great post and I totally agree with you that before technology is put in place, there should be a plan. I have said many times that you should NEVER have the devices and say "now what"? It should be, we have the plan, now we need devices to make it work. Here is where I want to not necessarily push back, but just get your thoughts on a certain aspect of leadership. I might have missed it, but it was never said that there was not a plan from the administrator in the building; it was only said that Mary asked you what you would do. With that being said, I am wondering what you think when sometimes leaders make purchases based on the long term vision of the school, and not necessarily the school. For example, before I came to the school I was at, teacher's were given full say on where the SmartBoards were placed in their current room (I know how you feel about SmartBoards, but that is not where I am going with this). Some teachers did not feel comfortable with the technology, so they asked for it to be put on the side. What happened when they felt comfortable with the technology was that they then wanted it in the front of the classroom, which was a move of about a 1000 dollars (you think we could have used that money?). When I came in, any new SmartBoards (the province had money for this initiative) had to be placed with a consultation from myself. Ultimately, I wanted to put the board where the teacher felt most comfortable, but LONG term, I had to think that the teacher might leave, switch rooms, etc. Every teacher was comfortable with the placement, but I guess what I am getting at is that sometimes the admin in a building may not make the decision that teachers are most comfortable with at that time, but if it serves the long term vision, is that not okay? I think that decisions have to be clear, and transparent, and the reasoning should be clear to staff, and they should be in the process as much as possible, but sometimes, do the leaders not to make some decisions that maybe make some people feel uncomfortable? I honestly don't know how much my comment has to do with your post, but I really respect the ideas you share and I would love to hear what you think about this. Thanks for all that you do. George
First of all, thanks for the above comment Derek :) The pleasure was all mine when you came out! Secondly, it wasn't the same without you Bill! Definitely missed you out there, but you are right, the people we have connected with have all pushed each other to be better. I kind of liken it to "collaborative competition"; we all work together so that we can also push each other to be better. The sessions at ISTE were okay, but I LOVED connecting with people. It is too bad that in schools we often downplay this meaningful connection with our students when it is the most important thing we have. As much as you were missed, I know we will cross paths many times my friend. Have a great last day with the kids and wish them a great summer from Canadian George!
Thanks Bill for your post. We recently talked about the importance of PLC time and in this day and age, I see that schools are thinking a lot about doing them in a model where time is provided either after schools, or during the day. Although it is essential that we ensure that we have some face-to-face time with our colleagues, there are only so many hours in the day and coaching, families, extracurricular, etc., often interfere. Do we not need lives outside of the school? We need to start looking at PLC's in a little bit of a different way and think of synchronous and asynchronous ways that we can connect to one another. Why can't I connect when the time is best for me? I can still share those ideas, and often, when I do, they will be archived in a way that is there for later. Just rambling but still, we should be able to connec the two. "We have the technology."
I think that you are bang on Bill. As I have continued on in my career as a principal, I have truly believed in "clearing the path" for my staff. I read your one tweet about managerial duties and I believe that is huge. No matter what, there is always going to be those tasks that happen, but how can we get rid of more of this? I also believe that TIME is the one thing that I can really give to staff to help them improve. If we want something to be innovative, I have to provide time for that to happen. Thanks for your continued awesome writing. It means even more to me that I met you in person. Awesome.
Curious if walkthroughs are not the answer, what is the alternative for teacher supervision? I agree that if there is not trust between principal and teacher, they are not effective, but that is a bigger issue that affects more than walkthroughs. I know that you said the following: "I guess what I'm wondering is wouldn't the time of principals be better spent on a few deep and meaningful observations and interactions with faculty members than on a ton of short walkthroughs without meaningful follow-up" Wouldn't both be beneficial? I believe that for walkthroughs to be beneficial though, it has to be done WITH teachers and not to them. It is essential they are a part of the conversation before you start them.
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Oct 16, 2010