C’mon now… when is the last time you crashed a party? High School? College? Yesterday?
I crashed one last week. There was an end-of-the-year party at the local watering hole and I had to go. They were honoring a retiree and the last day of school, and everyone deserves some merrymaking on the last day of school.
I couldn’t help but to notice the makeup of the room and the lack of diversity. Not to be mean / offensive, but it seemed (with the exception of two or three people) it was very planned as to who was and who was not there. I’m sure everyone was invited, but just by looking, you couldn’t help to notice who was and wasn’t there.
And yes, I saw the faces when I walked in. They were not pleased. And I didn’t care. At all. There needs to be a mixup at gatherings like this. And in schools.
I’m there to celebrate the occasion and those who served, not revel in gossip and banter. The average Joe, who’s not one of the Jets, Sharks, or Pink Ladies, should not be shunned or feel on ‘the outs’ for not being on.
The cliques did their thing, and I did mine. One thing I couldn’t help to notice, I was being filmed by a staff member. how pathetic is that? The epitome of a bully and petty. And some wonder why where they are today.
Anyway, one of the biggest reasons I attended was to diversify. Each year, I send out a questionnaire to staff asking “what would you change for the next year”, and this year, multiple answers were given for the need to diversify. To quote one response: “We need to hire people that are different than us. We need different ages, the opposite sex, and we need those who are not cloaked in ‘the good ol’ days’. Hire those who want to teach, not those who just sit at lunch and complain all day.”
Well, I hopefully took your advice, and I encourage all leaders to do the same.
Look at your current make-up in your schools. What do you have? What are you lacking? What do you need, and what do you want?
A good, hard look should take place each and every Spring when it comes time to prepare for the following school year. Variety is the spice of life. Mix things up… not for you, but for your students. If you don’t do it for them, you’re continuing the tradition of the same old thing. Is that the world we live in now… the same old thing?
Don’t be that administrator who looks the other way. Make changes, make them often, and do it for your students, because they deserve it.
David Culberhouse (@Dculberhouse) is THE MAN. He just published, FOR FREE, two e-books on his website. Check them out. Thought-proviking is an understatement.
‘The Changing Face of Modern Leadership’ manuscript is the second ebook to be released through my blog. It was written a few years back, but I think you will find it has real relevance and value for today’s leaders as they look to be more innovative and effective in the face of the rapidity and turbulence of change. Enjoy!
Yep, you read the title correctly; I dropped the mic at the White House.
This whole event happened very, very quickly. I got an email last Tuesday about a MakerSpace event at the US Patent and Trade Office in Alexandria, VA. The Sunday afternoon event (and very random date and time, even for the unconference crowd) peeked my interest, as it was one of the rare times where the federal government was dipping their toes into murky waters. I was on the fence until I got another email from a colleague working at The White House. The email was a simple one; come join us at the White House for a conversation with other leaders from around the country, focusing on the Maker movement.
As the proclamation states above, this is the second year that the President has claimed June 11-18 as the National Week of Making. The Week of Making is an important one in education for many reasons; most importantly, showing that ingenuity is the catalyst for growth. Small minds are creating for big problems. The maker concept (maker-space, mobile-maker, STEM, STEAM, digital shop, whatever you wish to call it) is allowing our learners to create, engage, and explore with their hands.
Several teachers, librarians, principals, and superintendents had the chance to partake in the actual process and model on Sunday at the US Patent & Trade Office in Alexandria, Virginia. While it’s always cool to see such a variety of folks together for a common cause (ranging from DC librarians to teachers from Alaska), it was a great surprise to see so many of my PLN from Twitter in person! Mike Lubelfeld, Nick Polyak, Matt Miller, and many others; it was a GREAT time. The USPTO asked what was our biggest takeaway was — mine was learning about the USPTO Education & Outreach program. Did you know that the USPTO offers a whole PD program for teachers AND students? Inventions and making go hand in hand with the patent. Please check out what USPTO have to offer by clicking here.
Then comes the big morning. After walking to the White House and getting through the myriad of security (side note – all of those security snafu’s you hear about at the White House – hogwash. It’s one of THE MOST intense security measures you can go through) and boom… it hits you. We are in THE WHITE HOUSE!
It was a superb morning of conversations and sharing from the Department of Ed, EOP officials, funders, administrators, and, of course, teachers. We got to give some summaries in the end, and well, I did, in Jay style.
Before you knew it, it was time to go home. I still don’t think I can process what happened. By far, one of the BEST days as an educator, period.
image credit: authenticeducation.org
“BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND.”
I heard these six life-changing words over ten years ago from a former supervisor when we were looking at my lesson plans together. I was confused. He asked me if I ever read books by Grant Wiggins. Who? Obviously not then – but he got me hooked… VERY quickly.
Such a simple concept. When looking at a lesson, what do you want the learner to know? From there, create your plans backwards. So simple, yet I couldn’t grasp my head around it. I dug deeper and deeper, and before you knew it, I felt Iike I knew Grant.
I then delved into his other concept – TRANSFER. Having learners, IN THEIR OWN WAY, demonstrate the transfer of knowledge. Prove to me, the educator, that you, the student, learned. This was my new mantra as an educator and an assistant principal.
I then went to the Hopewell Valley Regional School District as the new K-12 Supervisor of Social Studies and learned something super cool – Grant lived in Hopewell. I ended up meeting him at the “PQM” – the local supermarket in town where everyone eats lunch. He was a riot.
I then got to see the other side of Grant: his band (he acknowledged that they were awful), his passion for soccer, and Grants telling what UbD and transfer really are to him. He was the first to say that the books and videos were dry and laced with jargon; but if you hear him talk about it, it brings you an entirely new perspective on UbD & transfer. For six months to pick his brain on everything from the disaffected student to his salad choice.
Thank you Grant, for being you. I can’t begin to ever tell you how much you’ve changed me as an educator and how I have improved since.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been getting a lot of questions as to why I attend so many conferences. Most questions are implying that since I am a Superintendent, there is no need to be, since (as one person put it) “I’m at the top”. So, please allow me to explain my rationale for conferences:
1. I pick and choose. I’m not a teacher trying to become an administrator; I’m not a rookie administrator trying to establish my name. I’m not going for recognition; I’m going because there are topics and items I want to learn about. Sure they are on some Saturdays, some are far, and some aren’t even that great, but if I don’t go, I won’t expose myself to something that could be amazing — and then my students suffer.
2. I’m always striving to be better. I have the responsibility to be better so my staff can be better and so my students can be better. Going to conferences allows me to acquire new knowledge, and also allows me to…
3. I’m meeting my followers and those I follow through Twitter, my source PLN action. There are so many wonderful people on Twitter that I have been lucky enough to learn from. Meeting them face to face and having the chance to learn even more than I did before. It’s a great chance to continue the important conversations from online in person.
4. Some are required. Yes, it’s true. Some conferences are required, depending on the initiative and what’s specifically listed in my contract. Sometimes, there are even financial stakes involved (for schools and for me). Recently, I couldn’t attend a conference out of state. The conference was for a national program that I signed up over a year ago to be a part of and attend. It says very specifically in the details that I was to attend. I didn’t, and now my district suffers, and I lost out on a merit goal. I guess I’ll have to find that $3850.00 elsewhere.
5. I’m telling our story. As Brad Currie always says, “tell your story, or someone else will.” My District has done amazing things in two years. This is not my doing; this is the teacher’s, administrator’s, and (most importantly) student’s doing. LAC has a whole lot to share.., especially what has worked, and more importantly, what hasn’t. Telling our story helps others along the way, and if I can help just one person help their school move forward, it’s worth it.