What are the goals and purposes of the school visits, student shadowing, and blog?
The primary goal is to share observations of contemporary best practices of good, 21st century high schools, and invite feedback and on-line conversation about them, in order to better reflect upon and advocate for 21st c. K-12 education, the mission of my website http://www.21k12.net. More personally, I have the aim of leading K-12 schools over the course of the next thirty years, and I think this project will help me grow to be a better school-leader, and my future students will have the visited-schools to thank.
Is this a commercial project?
No, there are no fees associated with this project, and there is no intention or expectation of it being a revenue generating project.
Is this intended for parents who are school shopping/comparing?
No. This site will not compare, rate, rank, or evaluate schools, and the site will not be promoted/distributed to consumer parents. Some, many, or most schools might end up being masked in identity anyway. This is intended as an educators’ site, reporting and reflecting on observed best practices.
What would be a typical school visit by Jonathan?
There may end up being no typical visit, but looking forward, my ideal visit will be one where I am able to spend an entire school day shadowing a school-identified student, preferably a junior. Of course, I will not follow the student into any restroom or into a private conversation, and we can arrange a time for the student to have a break—though I’d prefer the break not be at the student’s lunch-time. At day’s end, I am happy to sit and share observations/reflections and answer questions with administrators and/or school faculty—but this is not a required element, only at the school’s request.
Will names identified?
Student names will never be identified; students will be referred to only by pseudonyms. Teachers will not be identified unless schools or teachers request they be identified. As for schools and administrators, in keeping with Sara Lawrence Lightfoot’s approach in her classic book, The Good High School, I prefer to identify them by name, but I will happily defer to a school’s request to be ‘masked.’
What will be the Frequency of blog posting?
If the school prefers/requests I will do just a single blog entry at day’s end, but my preference is for streaming/live blogging, posting multiple entries hourly. This second option provides for the school’s potential of a real-time interactive experience, as school constituents, whoever the visited school wishes, can participate by reading (and responding) to blog entries as they happen over the course of the day. The blog allows for easy posting of responses to blog entries, but I can and will also monitor/moderate the responses, to ensure their appropriateness.
Who is Jonathan Martin?
Jonathan is an experienced school administrator and writer; he holds degrees in political, religious, and educational leadership, including a MA in Ed. Admin. from USF. For the past 9 years he headed Saklan Valley School, an accredited PS-8 independent school in Moraga, California; prior to that he headed Maybeck High School in Berkeley, California. In the present year, 2008-09, he is on sabbatical and is reading, training, and blogging as part of a year’s commitment to professional growth. For a complete bio, C.V., educational philosophy statement, and selected writings, please visit Jonathan’s website at http://www.21k12.net/ .
Has Jonathan blogged before?
Not a lot. Jonathan wrote frequently, of course, on-line for his school’s website. Recently, Jonathan maintained a three day blog totaling 10 entries and 3700 words at the Urban School Center for Teaching Innovation TechSymposium.
What will be the tone of the blog?
The tone will be respectful, professional, and constructive. At times, it will also be personal, as I relate observations to my own experiences. The predominant tilt will be toward reporting on observed good practices (“I like how this lesson displays evidence of backward design” with specifics). You might call this approach: “catching them doing it right.” At times, there may be very mild inquiries: “I wonder if they should extend/adapt/modify this” or “Perhaps they might consider.” To quote this project’s inspiration, Lawrence-Lightfoot, this is for the most part a “search for goodness—exemplary schools that might tell us something about the myriad definitions of educational success and how it is achieved.”
What are its inspirations?
Sara Lawrence Lightfoot’s wonderful portraiture of exemplary secondary schools in her 1983 The Good High School; Michael Thompson’s The Pressured Child and more particularly, his experiences reported therein shadowing high school students; Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age; Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future; Sternberg’s The New Three R’s; NAIS President Pat Bassett’s call for a renaissance for educationally sustainable programs at our schools; and the research and best-practice advocacy on learning of Wiggins, Marzano, Sternberg, Darling-Hammond, and Bransford.
To quote Michael Thompson’s explanation for his decision to shadow high school students for his Pressured Child: “A critical part of our job as educators is to understand a child’s daily experience in school… Let’s go back to school.”