February 2009


So, this is not where I want to be: I want to be attending; I want to be at one of the two sessions this hour on 21st century curriculum.   But, though that is where my heart is, my head has persuaded my I need to focus on finance.  The curse of school leadership.

So here I am, at Pat’s session on school finance sustainability and survivability, to be better prepared as I assume the leadership of a school that has its own (just like nearly every other school) financial challenges.

PB: Here is the perfect storm:  Six factors in confluence: (more…)

So my apologies; I wanted to get to all of this, but time got the better of me.  After a terrific meeting with Carney Sandoe consultant Kiki Johnson, about an upcoming board training, and many friendly conversations in the exhibit hall, I only got to Geek to Great for the last 20 minutes.  But I do want to give the presenters a shout-out; what I could see of it was very fine.  It is so fascinating to see the way in which our technology directors are becoming, via ISED-L and ISED-Ning, and in each school, some of our most important educational innovators, and this session was a fine demonstration of this. (more…)

Talking during lunch with a good friend and colleague, Mike Hanas of Carolina Friends, and he said to me: What did Pat Bassett mean, anyway, about sailing directly into the stormy seas?  I like the point; in previous post I praised it as the better strategy than that of “taking safe harbor.”  But what is it in practice, and why didn’t Pat provide us any more clarification or examples? 

Here is what I think it means.  Taking safe harbor would be to continue to do those things, and emphasize those things, that we have always done, that we have done for the longest time, and which will least likely upset, confuse, or worry people.   If teachers are feeling high anxiety about layoffs or their potential, you don’t challenge them to teach differently than how they always have done.  If parents are worrying about affording tuition, you don’t take away Latin, or move away from AP programs, or tell them that instead of final exams the students will have final exhibitions.  

Sailing into the storm, then, is to do the opposite: accelerate the rate of change.  This blog is called 21k12, celebrating twentyfirst century k-12 education.  Our students should be learning 21st century skills in 21st century classrooms, which means they are not listening to lectures, not doing workbooks, not writing final exams; instead they are solving real world problems, learning what is meaningful and purposeful for them and their lives, they are using contemporary digital tools to create, to publish online, to challenge authority.   They are not taking safe harbor, but they are what will, I posit, be most important and most effective for making sure we make the most of this storm, because, after all, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

 

 Here at General Session: Screen looks great; the rotating earth with the NAIS AC logo moving around it– really sharp, attractive, appealing visual.   

Charming song from Quest  Academy students singers– “Come Sail Away,” nicely aligned with the conference theme.   In my many headship interviews last fall I was often asked what I like most about the role, and my answer was that I enjoy enormously the many opportunities to observe and celebrate our students’ performances and demonstrations– it is a great feeling to see our students share what they have accomplished, what they have learned,  what they can do.  This is a case in point.

After the jump: Basset and Heath takeaways.  (more…)

NAIS Home

Good morning; Day 2.   Enjoying a bland breakfast with good company, and now the annual meeting has begun.   Agenda includes reports from the NAIS board, elections, and, the highlight, Pat Bassett’s President’s Report  and presentation: Brutal Fact, Inevitable Surprises, and Unshakable Beliefs.  (Summary after the jump).   Bassett:  “NAIS inquiries have dropped 20% in last seven years. More kids home schooled, more kids in charters, than in NAIS schools.”   And: “Can you think of any institution more resistant to change than independent schools? The church changes more!”  And: “Data point: Majority of parents in families of over $200K think public schools are higher quality than independent schools.” (more…)

I am delighted to be here for this session; Chris Jackson, CWRA Program Director, and I have been corresponding since Fall, and regular readers of my blog know I have frequently touted the virtues of CWRA, the College and Work Readiness Assessment.    CWRA first came to my attention last winter, when as a Klingenstein Visiting Fellow I was told of it by a fellow fellow Mark Desjardins, Head of Holland Hall in Oklahoma.     But it vaulted further upwards in my awareness upon my reading of Tony Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap  In it, Wagner raves about CWRA as a very valuable testing tool to assess the value add our schools are providing our students, measuring their mastery of 21st century skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.

No bones about it: I am on a CWRA promotion crusade (though I have no affiliation).   From what I have learned, CWRA offers powerful assessment of what our students are learning in the most important ways.   One of my very first acts as Head-Elect of St. Gregory College Prep has been to institute the funding for St. Gregory to join the CWRA family, and I am eager to see many more NAIS schools join the flock.  (more…)

Excited to be here for this session,  but trying to catch up from coming in several minutes late. Have to say it here: 30 minutes for lunch, and also for moving to lunch, and from lunch to the next session, is simply uncivilized.  IMHO, I’d suggest a schedule tweak for this problem next year. 

 This session was an easy choice for me, because I have spent the year trying to learn about and better understand 21st century learning, and in particular how to develop essential 21st c. skills, creative and critical thinking among them.    Our speaker is from the College Board; his presentation style is a bit dry, but he has important messages for us, with a valuable accompanying powerpoint.  (will the powerpoint be made available? If and when it does, I will try to link it back in.)     

(more…)

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