Posts categorized "Education Policy" Feed

Education Fast Forward #9

Make sure to tune into the ninth debate of Education Fast Forward on January 20. This  event is scheduled take in front of an audience of education ministers from around the world who are also attending the World Education Forum in London. It will also be broadcast  over the Internet, and recorded for those who aren't operating in the same time zone. Sponsors of this include Promethean and Cisco Systems. 

I've been invited as a special guest to my third EFF debate which means I'll be connecting to the meeting from New York via Telepresence, Cisco's impressive videoconference system. Two presenters and a moderator will start the debate and then invited guests, such as myself, will potentially contributing to the ensuing discussion. It truly is a global conversation as special guests and EFF fellows will be joining in from far flung corners of the world. 

You can see previous debates in the playlist below; I particularly recommend EFF #8 as Michael Fullan was one of the featured guests and he is always incredibly insightful into educational change. 

The featured speakers for EFF #9 are Senator David Coltart of Zimbabwe,  Vicky Colbert, founder of Colombia’s Escuela Nueva, and Ramji Raghavan, founder of India’s Agastya International Foundation. Ramji was one of our keynotes at last year's STEMxCon and I think you'll be inspired by all the featured speakers' work. 


Why Change?

Just had a conversation with a rural GA super and his tech director for a project I'm working on. They are modernizing teaching and learning in their district because they clearly understand that they have to change in order to meet the needs of their students and to prepare them for life in this increasingly complex world. Their teachers are on board with this, and are embracing the opportunities and tools that they can access. 

It's refreshing to meet people who get this, and it's occurred to me that there are districts out there who don't feel this pressure. If you don't feel pressure to change, if everything has always worked and your students are generally successful, why adapt and move forward with modernizing your institution? I think this is the crux of the problem i see in my travels and conversations... the problem is that here in the US, we have widely disperate attempts to move forward with updating teaching and learning. We're aren't experiencing the same conditions that maybe drive change. And, maybe administrators aren't getting out of their districts enough to learn from each other and to realize that they are falling behind. 


The privilege I have in my work right now is learning through visits and conversations with a wide variety of people working in the education field, and it's so fascinating to me the wide range of initiatives and work that are taking place in our schools and beyond. How do we "map this space" as my friend Betsy Corcoran of EdSurge would say? How can we present a fuller picture of the projects and possibilities that are happening forward thinking school districts? 


Just a few thoughts for today... 

What Truths Do You Hold to be Self-Evident About Education?

Chris Lehmann: The Great American Teach-In: Listening to Students.

Sam Chaltain: What's Your Declaration of Education?.

What truths do you hold to be self-evident about education? Please join me and many other education stakeholders in exploring the state of US education during the Great American Teach-In (, scheduled to take place on May 10th. 

During this event, we will be examining what it means to be educated in the 21st century and formulating solutions to improve education. I believe that in order to do this thoughtfully, we must look within ourselves to identify and articulate our fundamental beliefs about the purpose of education. Participants will be encouraged to draft their own Declarations of Education in some format and to share these ideas with the world. 

The following questions were developed to help participants reflect and over the next few weeks, I think I'll tackle these in blog posts here in preparation for writing my own Declaration. I see this as sort of an cathartic exercise similar to NPR's This I Believe series. I hope you'll think about these as well and take the time to create your own vision of education.

1. When and where do I learn best?
2. What does an ideal learning environment look like?
3. How closely do our current places of learning resemble our ideal learning environment?
4. What barriers to learning/growth exist within our current environments?
5. What will we do to make our current learning environments more perfect places to work and learn?

I also am thinking about how to involve my own kids, ages 8 and 12, as I think they have opinions on this matter. I'd like to help them better articulate their feelings about school, and to think metacognitively about their learning in order to advocate for themselves. 

Let's change the current tone with education and focus on what works, what needs to change, and how we can do it together. 

Pondering Waiting for Superman Etc.

I wrote an extensive post on all the current ed reform hype, and lost it somehow. I'll attempt to collect my thoughts on this again in a much more succinct and less eloquent manner!

My main points were:

I'm concerned about fevered pitch of anti-teacher rhetoric in the media today. The American public needs to critically examine the current ed reform hype generated by the release of  Waiting for Superman. Specifically, citizens should look at:

  • The buzz  around Superman, particularly Oprah's spin  and subsequent initiatives which don't give much credence to teachers
  • The recent mayoral election in Washington DC and the work of DC School Chancellor Michelle Rhee
  • The decision by the LA Times to publish value-added data on LAUSD teachers. (Make sure to read the extensive comments in this blog post.)

The education landscape is a complex picture, and more standardized testing, firing of teachers, and charter schools will not alone solve our current crisis.       

  • Yes, bad teachers exist and should be removed from classrooms. However, our current teaching force needs to be inspired  and prepared to meet today's challenges.
  • We're facing a teacher shortage with baby boomers retiring over the course of the next few years and we must not throw the baby out with the bath water.
  • While some teachers are born great, it takes time and professional development for most teachers to evolve into truly effective ones. 
  • Teachers must stand up and make sure their stories (positive and negative) are told. Clearly, the American public is only getting one side of the story. 
  • Teachers also must advocate for developmental and pedagogical best practices. We are at risk for ignoring research.
  • Parents need to be a part of this formula for success. In Singapore, parents feel immense amount of pressure to do what it takes to make their children successful and their system is considered one of the most successful in the world.
  • Administrators do not seem to be the focus of current reform rhetoric. We must examine the role of school leadership in motivating and engaging school communities.
  • We need positive messaging to encourage all stakeholders to work together towards the common goal of doing what's best for children. Effective change will not happen with divided factions. 

A voice for reason in all of this has been Diane Ravitch, a prolific writer, professor and historian of education. A former appointee to the Department of Education under Bush I, she has reversed her views on what truly works in education. Read her latest book, follow her on Twitter, and check out this interview featuring her. Also, consider signing this petition for her to appear on Oprah (a complete long shot, but my hope is that her work is brought to Oprah's attention). I want to be Diane when I grow up. :) 

Please share additional readings on these topics via the comments here in my blog.  Articles and posts  that have caught my attention on this are:  

Breakthrough Learning @Google

I want to bring your attention to an exciting event that's happening at Google at the end of October. Google, the MacArthur Foundation, Common Sense Media, and the Joan Ganz Cooney Foundation are convening an education summit, calling for participants "to create and act upon a breakthrough strategy for scaling-up effective models of teaching and learning for children."

While the summit is open to invited guests, there will be plenty of opportunities for public participation as the event will be webcasted. People can also leave comments in the
community blog, engage with participants and panelists via Twitter, and pose questions using Google Moderator. For details, please visit the link posted below.

I'll be present at this event along with fellow Google Certified Teachers Cheryl Davis and Kathleen Ferenz. I'm excited to learn from the many illustrious speakers scheduled to present, particularly keynoter Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone. I'm anticipating great conversations among participants and will share tidbits as appropriate. And, I have to admit, I'm really thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the Googleplex in Mountain View.

I've written a guest post for the Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age blog on transforming teacher practices; look for it to be posted here in the next few weeks. The results of an informal survey given to those in my personal learning network will be made available then. 

For further information, including the agenda and web cast info, please visit: