June 2010


32x32 pixels 'file icon' (PNG only)Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to discuss in an EdTechTalk webcast St. Gregory’s program and initiatives in 21st century learning this past year. The 22 minute conversation can be accessed here; scroll to the bottom of the chat transcript to find the speaker button.

From the heading:

Jonathan E. Martin, Head of School at St. Gregory College Preparatory School in Tucson, Arizona joined us to reflect on his first year.  We discussed how Tony Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap has framed the work he is doing with his faculty.  Jonathan led us through a number of assessments that St. Gregory is using to measure how collaborative, creative, and engaged his students are at St. Gregory.  Interested in the 21st Century School, this is definitely one version!   What a way to close out another another great year of podcasting.

I am also pasting in, after the jump, the chat conversation that accompanied the interview: I have to say, I was not able to multi-task powerfully enough to both fully engage in the conversation and also follow the simultaneous chat happening about the interview.  It was interesting to catch up with it later and see what people were saying.

How do other heads react to your strong use of Web 2.0 tools? Yes, this is a funny topic for some of my colleagues; many do, in a very friendly way, tag me as the blogger guy, or joke when in discussion, will this conversation appear on your blog?     Twitter seems entirely foreign to most, and is an easy thing to disparage when you don’t use it.    I think it is funny too how many other heads think of me as the “technology guy,” when I feel like I am far from being a technology expert, though I am an enthusiast.  Using blog platforms and twitter is hardly demonstrating excellent technological skills.   But I have had great support too; our Southwest association (ISAS) executive director has been very strong in her encouragement of my blog, and there is also a small circle of other Heads who blog regularly or are on Twitter who are terrific comrades and wonderful writers and web 2.0 users: Josie Holford is first among them.

Jonathan-time is always the number 1 identified barrier for the development of professional learning teams. How have you addressed this?? Have you changed the traditional meetings which focus on operations to allow for organic learning communities to emerge?? (more…)

Picture of John O'BrienDr. John O’Brien is a community college president and an expert on integrating technology in education.  He spoke  at our conference Tuesday morning.   He is associated with Mark Milliron, who spoke to this group (ISAS Heads) in November.

Dr. O’Brien was here to advocate for the wisdom and power of blended learning, something I too am enthusiastic about, but because the power was out, his presentation was unavailable to be screened, and instead it turned to more of a discussion of the implications of our new era.  (I will say, very gently, that though I found the conversation important and provocative, it would also have been great to learn more about blended learning from O’Brien, and I hope both that the presentation will be shared and that I have the opportunity to post and comment upon it here.)

Key topics that especially interested me were the following five, each of which I have commented upon:

We used technology committees to consider what technologies to bring into our schools, but we don’t have ongoing learning committees (or attention) to determine how learning needs to evolve to align with these new tools.

I know Dr. O’Brien, or John as I will refer to him here-on, would agree with me that this is perhaps the most important point made in the session.   We don’t implement tech for the sake of the tech, but for the sake of the learning, and we need to never stop thinking how learning changes with tech to become more effective and more powerful.   Since Aristotle we have know we learn best by doing; since Socrates that we learn best by questioning received wisdom.   (more…)

21st century schools deserve,  and most likely require,  21st century boards, which could be defined as ones where trustees actively engage in a dynamic of learning by doing, collaborating, questioning,  critical thinking, problem-solving and innovating.    This phrasing was not the explicit message of Dr. Cathy Trower, a governance expert from Harvard, but I think it is a reasonable inference from her message.

The essential ethos, she suggested,  for 21st century boards must be one of powerful questioning and problem identification.

Rather than recording Professor Trower’s remarks here, I am going to suggest a progressive pathway forward for boards to become higher functioning, 21st century governance agencies.

Putting first things first, start with an inquiry into and clarification of the work of governance.  Get Governance Right First– Trower implored. Do so even if some individual members might push instead for a priority upon strategic planning or fund-raising, Trower advocated. (more…)

Pat begins speaking about the “red book”– the most topical issues that will impact the industry.  If you only purchase one book this summer, you should purchase the NAIS Guide to Change management.   Recommended for assistance: Governancehelp@nais.org.   Email this address anytime you need prompt guidance on governance issues.

Ten Trends:

1. Access or Affordability is Becoming Sophie’s Choice:  The difference between access and affordability we have spoken about for a long time.   As I look at the data, and I see where the industry is going, it is going toward affordability and away from access.    When you look at income by quintiles, you find the distribution of aid is going less and less to the lowest and middle income families who need it the most, and more and more is going to the upper income quintiles.    Initially, aid was used to support bringing in families who had previously had never had any access to our schools.    But now, and NAIS has been recommending this, we are using aid, as NAIS has urged, to support higher and higher income people to be able to come to our schools.    Which will serve the school better: taking the all-star Hispanic kid who is full load at 25K , or should you take in five kids with incomes of over 100K who you can give 5k to each. (more…)

You got to love this guy: Chris Lehmann is among the most inspirational of all 21st century school-leaders today.  This speech is excellent-coming from TEDxNYED, which I would have killed to attend (and blog!)

There are now 14 of these talks available on the site, and I hope to view, and blog about, most in the weeks to come.

From Chris:

I love school!  Some say we need to reinvent learning, but I love school. (more…)

This post may stray a tad away from my usual topics here, but this speech strikes me as so important, and so aligned with my own values, that I felt compelled to share it here.   Justice Souter is a long-time intellectual hero of mine, and so it is exciting to see him addressing my own alma mater at an event I have often attended, Harvard’s Commencement.

But more importantly, it is the content of his speech which compels me to share.   Far too often, in every arena of leadership and decision-making, we fall into the mental trap of believing that we are choosing between right and wrong, good and bad, or better and worse.   But that trap is so dangerous: we are not doing so.  We are choosing between good and good, right and right, better in some ways and better in other ways.   (more…)

Tom’s presentation is here.

Tom opens with his own background, emphasizing he began as a teacher who then began using technology, skeptically, and then became enthusisatic, and now is a trainer.

Using polleverywhere.com, Tom collects input from all participants here to express our edtech feelings:

55% enthusiastic, 32% interested but concerned, 13% mostly skeptical.

(more…)