cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Sean MacEntee
“We spend far too much time talking about problems, and not enough time talking about solutions.” Simon Jackson
I watched as Bruce Dixon spoke to a group of leaders. To be honest, I had only kind of heard of him before though his name has popped up in blogs, twitter, etc. As he was introduced, one of the statements about him was, “he has been pushing for 21st century learning for 23 years”, and I kind of laughed it off.
And then he spoke and I was blown away. To be honest, he really pushed my own thinking as well on what I do in my role.
He talked about the “elephants in the room” and one was the lack of access for students with technology and the pressure of time that we have, yet only providing kids time on a computer for an hour a week. He spoke passionately about the ubiquitous access that students need to a tool that is necessary in our world today. If you look around at most conferences, every teacher has some device that they use, whether it is a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Go into the classroom though, and you will be lucky if you see that as the norm.
1:1 schools get so much attention because they are so unique, but should they be? Shouldn’t that be the norm for our kids as it is outside of our world? If you really think of it, doesn’t it seem strange that we are nowhere near the point where every kid having a device in school is just the norm?
Some will blame budgets. Some will blame admin. Some will blame governments. Some will blame lack of teacher skills. Lots of blame to go around yet very little problem solving. We are teachers; solving problems is part of what we do. Why are we not pushing to figure this one out a little harder?
So I am looking around the room while Mr. Dixon is speaking and I see one of the things that I always notice when someone says this; the “head bob”. Watching people “bob” their head up and down with everything that he was saying just like I have seen many times from similar conversations. The notion of giving our kids access is something we all agree on, yet what have we figured out? As I look around this room full of superintendents, board trustees, educators, parents, and business people, I wonder if we REALLY started pushing the issue, could we not make a bigger dent?
Moving your head up and down does not equal action. If you aren’t going to try and figure a way to do this and push the issue, moving your head up and down is not for you; choose side-to-side. Be honest.
What you say (and show) should align with what you do.
This can be done and I have worked before to make it happen as a school principal (to at least some extent). Figure out what you want to do, then align your budget to make things happen. Don’t say “21st Century Learning blah blah blah”, then increase or even maintain your same textbook budget. That doesn’t make sense. When those “desks” break, don’t buy more desks. Another thing that makes no sense. Don’t ever put less money in people (the school can look flashy but if you do not provide the professional development, any initiative will die), but think of the “things” you buy. Leadership should determine your management, not the other way around.
So my first move? I guess it is this post that might make some people feel uncomfortable. But that’s not enough. I will continue to work with my schools to help find ways to make this a reality.
What’s your move?
Any politicians reading this? Your agendas and plans often look great, but for now they are words in print and nothing else. Want to make them happen? Provides resources and support. Some governments have provided funding for devices for students…it is possible.
Any businesses reading this? If you want kids to have the skills that YOU continuously say you need in your workplace, start to invest in schools. Don’t just sponsor sporting events so you can get your name on a banner. That money you spend on advertising within schools might get you some business short term, but will it promote the creativity and innovation of your organization long term? You will get a huge rate of return if you start putting money in schools to provide kids with what they need.
Administrators reading this? Figure this out. Take a look at your budgets and dissect them. What can be different? What is your focus for learning? If technology is not in your plan, why? Explain that to me. Feel free to write it in the comments. I don’t get how it can’t be anymore. but maybe I am missing something
Teachers reading this? Share your voice. Not just on Twitter and blogs but go talk to the people that determine budgets. Look at “government plans” which all talk about the learning our kids need, 21st century learning, etc., and ask them how will they fund this. Will politicians listen? Maybe not. But you have a better shot this way as opposed to saying nothing.
Parents reading this? Start talking with your schools and ask questions. Lots of them. Be a part of the school team to help improve the opportunities for your kids. We always say, “it takes a village” and we need parents more than ever in our schools.
I just can’t handle the head bobbing anymore without the action behind it. Let’s figure this out for our kids.
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