What do we need to do to make our schools better?

You know that feeling when you have all these ideas, facts, thoughts, and opinions in your head where they have all come together so quickly that it turns into a big mass of thought that cannot escape because the channels to do so become clogged?

That feeling where you have bounced around from reading this article, this book, listened to this keynote, attended these breakout sessions, sat in on meetings and never really had the time to process and chew on what you have been learning?

The other roadblock that when you do have time to reflect and chew on what has been discovered you just don’t know where to start because the constant change of pace has just backlogged everything and you cannot get out the thoughts even when you try, so you just sit and feel empty headed instead?

This is a bit how I feel. I feel so fortunate to have the time to read. I have read so many books, articles, and research this summer that I literally have stacks of notepads, notes, and books in my office waiting to be brought to life. I am fortunate that I have had the opportunities this summer to go to trainings, conferences, PD, and more. It is busy, but to hear what the rest of the world is doing is good to gain perspective.

With that being said, I cannot help but feel frustrated at times. This is not a “woe is me” post. The frustration lies in the education system. A system that I am part of myself so I point the finger at me as well. Everything I read, everyone I listen to, all the meetings of the minds revolves around one thing…..

What do we need to do to make our schools better?

You can twist that question 20 different ways, but in the end we are all on the same page. We want the best for our students and community. No matter who you are, where you teach, what education position you hold, what education company you come from, we are in this together. I refuse to believe anyone involved in the education world does not want what is best for students. Obviously, from that feeling we all have different ideas about how to do this, but the key ingredients never really change.

If I keep the ideas simple for the sake of this post, then I think that no matter the idea or platform we believe in, we realize that in order for students to learn best we must have the following ingredients:

1. Students must feel safe at school

2. The culture must be one that is collaborative among students as well as faculty

3. We must view everyone involved as part of the team therefore developing tools to help us ensure we are meeting the needs of every student and educator. We are not standardized human beings. We all come with our own unique gifts and abilities so we must work to ensure we help everyone in the system reach their potential.

4. Use research based strategies to allow everyone to develop our 21st century skills so we can become self sufficient problem solvers.

These are quite generic I know. If we could honestly build upon these four items you can basically take any program, PD, training, school model, etc. and they are all based on these ideas.

If this is true, then why does the education system continue to talk about these ideas, but really struggles to move into action? Yes, there are places that have all of these. I am speaking in a broader context. We talk and talk and talk about things, but when it comes to action, we often stall.

I feel like the ideas are quite simple. I really do. I have a hard time finding anything that argues against these notions. So, why is it that we cannot make it happen?

I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on myself. I know I have work to do. I can improve myself and my qualities for sure. I have these goals mapped out for the upcoming school year.

How do we ignite this movement where we see all of us as one team? Why can’t school districts share among themselves? Why can’t buildings in a district work together? Why can’t we open up all of our classrooms for others to learn? Why do we continue to argue and not implement the research based strategies that we know work, yet don’t do? Why do we have these endless cycles of conversation about what is best for kids instead of moving into action?

Is the education machine really that massive and slow moving that we cannot make these things happen?

I don’t think it is. I believe that if we as educators came together and really worked as a team we could make these changes faster than ever before. I will continue to promote this collaboration. I will work to not just talk, but move to action(things will be shared soon). I will work very hard to not fall prey to the world of frustration and negative talk and strive to end these smaller subgroups that derail change(this is different that critiquing!). I am going to hold myself accountable to change my ways and live by what I type, read, and write.

If I can help push the machine in the right direction and bring others with me, then perhaps we will begin to move faster down the path that everyone wants………

The path that allows our schools to be great!

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2 thoughts on “What do we need to do to make our schools better?

  1. You said what I believe is the key: “I believe that if we as educators came together and really worked as a team we could make these changes faster than ever before.” My own choice is the quite established Professional Learning Community (PLC) or Network (PLN). They can and do work on many levels: subject, grade level, building, system, region, state, online, … The only requirements I’d suggest for being included are believing better alternatives can be identified, believing everyone can improve, and being willing to be a contributor rather than a gloom merchant / finger pointer.

    There at be only three requirements in my thought BUT each is important and easy to forget. AND each is central to any success. Of course, there will be strong opposition from time to time. But folks, effective learning and effective problem solving are critical to everyone’s optimizing their careers and personal lives. We ARE addressing THE right issues!!! We must and can succeed IF we are determined to work together to do so.

  2. The problem is that education is a dynamic and constantly changing landscape. To use myself as an example, our team worked hard for ten years and were finally at a point where we felt we were making a difference. I think we had all of the 4 points listed above and all indicators were showing improvement. The problem was that in order for the principal to make the changes she did she stepped on a few of the wrong toes and was forced out of her position. The next year, we regressed 15 years in the matter of a few weeks. The school was restructured. Longtime teachers left or were moved to different schools. Needless to say, everyone is in survival mode and just hoping that next year will be better than the last.