I started listening to Steven Johnson’s latest book, Perfect Future: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age. Early on, Johnson explains his belief that “if it bleeds, it leads” – this notion that things are getting worst and as a nation we are not making progress on many levels. And that is what is reported in the media. This proposition got me thinking about public education and progress. The public perception is that the education system is broken and nothing could possibly be working. While there is much room for improvement, I know there is more progress occuring in the system than is reported or shared in the print media or across social networks.
Yes…in Pennsylvania we repeatedly hear news about a governor , legislature and department of education making life exceedingly difficult for public schools – low budget indexes, vouchers or programs resembling vouchers, unrealistic expectations for student performance, new teacher evaluation systems and on and on. But what are those actually working in public education doing to share the progress of public education – the real stories of success, innovation and addressing challenges? Public schools need to start managing their our own digital footprint.
School and district leaders must develop a network awareness so they can harness the power of digital networks to turn the “no progress” message of education into a positive one. We can no longer rely solely on external media to create our digital footprint, we must do this ourselves by building cutomized social platforms to communicate the progress our institutions are making.
This is a rather significant shift in mindset but one that is critically important. Public education is no longer the only game in town. It use to be that if you lived in a neighborhood you went to the local neighborhood school (unless, of course, your parents could afford to send you to an independent school or home school you). Today, families have more choice. In Pennsylvania, we now have EITC grants available for students to attend private and parochial schools. Pennsylvania also has a significant population of students choosing to attend charter and cyber charter schools. Choice isn’t necessarily bad, but it does require public schools to dedicate more resources to getting the positive message of progress out to the public.
What are you doing to help create a positive digital footprint for your school or district and to turn around the negative message of “no progress”?
One example of what we are doing is connected to our 1:1 laptop program and teaching/learning initiative TL2014.
The use of social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter has increased over the past several years at an incredible rate. Social media can be used to connect to our family and friends, but it is increasingly used to connect to a larger community and the world with the intention of producing something good.
How comfortable are we as educators using social media tools? How are we using these tools now? Do we participate in or use social media for social change? Should we be teaching our students how to use social media for social change? How do we update our instructional practices?
This infographic provides statistics behind using social media for social change.
I enjoyed Thomas Friedman’s September 1 op-ed in the New York Times: It’s Still Halftime in America. Not because the subject was politics, but because I see how the ideas apply to education, particularly our educational leaders.
From the Op-Ed:
Armstrong’s passing really touched me, especially coinciding as it did with this election. Why? Because the America that launched Armstrong was an America that was embarked on a great and inspiring journey — one that spawned breakthroughs in science, medicine, computing and physics that made our country, and the world, a better place. What journey are we on today? Balancing the budget? Expanding health insurance? These are vital tools, but healthy to go where and balanced to do what?
…when President Kennedy launched America in 1962 “on a journey to the Moon, he made a point of saying it would be done within the decade,” and “it was such a powerful, inspiring and big vision that it lived on, even though the president himself died before it was completed.” It’s been a long time since any U.S. politician “launched the country on a journey of progress so inspiring that realizing it would have to extend beyond his term in office.”
If you’re a school or district leader, what’s your “powerful, inspiring and big vision”? Or are you more focused on playing the test score game and “balancing the budget”? (And for what?) Yes…our field does have some amazing school and district leaders who are doing great things. You can find them on the web and social media regularly sharing their work and ideas. Unfortunately, they are the exception rather than the norm. We need more visionary, inspirational leaders in education with a “powerful, inspiring and big vision” and the leadership to influence others to make it happen.
What’s your “powerful, inspiring and big vision” and what are you doing to bring it to life?
One of the challenges I’m experiencing in my new role as Assistant Superintendent is balancing the day-to-day work with the innovative work. In my previous role as Director of Data and Technology, my responsibilities were more focused and it was easier to make the time to focus on new ideas to move us forward. I’m wondering if it’s this way because it’s the beginning of my work in the position or if it’s the beginning of the school year. Or if it’s just the way it is!
It is the innovative, creative work that is energizing. I need to devise a plan to balance the day-to-day with the innovative work or see if things change as the year progresses. Sam Chaltain’s Huffington Post article, Reimagining Education, NOW reminds me that this is not a unique struggle, but one we must overcome if we are to move our schools forward.
Is anyone else experiencing the struggle between the day-to-day work and innovative work?