Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
What I have been thinking about a lot lately is the big idea of change, and in particular, making 1 change that would have the biggest impact on students. So with that question in mind I reached out to 5 leaders in my PLN that I have the utmost respect for. Each has made an impact on my practice as a school administrator and as a learner. Below are 5 leaders responses to the question:
"If you had the power to make 1 change, and 1 change only that would help to improve schools, what would it be?"
Sue Bruyns (@sbruyns) - Learning Supervisor, TVDSB. Master principal and teacher respected throughout the district for her knowledge, work ethic and love for kids.
Although it might seem trivial, I often wonder if we took the time to learn more about each other would our schools be better places. If teachers truly understood their students as people and as learners, would they be better informed to make text selections which would engage their students? If teachers had a deeper understanding of their students and their strengths, could they better program for them (include more authentic, meaningful tasks). I wonder if our administrators took the time to better understand their staff members could they have a greater impact with motivating educators to try new thing and to be true learners. Can we truly move thinking forward without understanding the current barriers and one of those barriers may be a lack of understanding of others?
Ann Marie Luce (@turnmeluce) - Principal, June Rose Callwood. Amazing leader that has a tremendous knowledge of pedagogy, but most importantly cares about all students regardless of ability or social status.
Student Voice.... Imagine if we asked students their thoughts about what format they would like to use to demonstrate their learning. What topics are they passionate about? What vision do they have for making their school a thriving learning community? What would they tell us? How could we use this information to create classrooms in which students were engaged and excited about learning?
Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) - Classroom teacher from Hamilton. A leader for her outstanding classroom practice that is visible to all who follow her. She spreads her knowledge and learning far and wide.
Less teacher talk, and more student "talk" and "doing." Sometimes I wonder how much the students get from what we say, and how much more meaningful the learning can be when the students figure out the solutions on their own. This means they need opportunities to make mistakes, go back, and try again. They need this talking and doing time with each other, with us being more of the questioner and pusher for deeper thinking. I like to talk. I don't think I'm alone in this, but for schools to change for the better, I think that the adults need to talk a little less.
Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) - Classroom teacher from Chatham. Coding and makerspaces are his passion, but so are the platforms he has built to support teachers and students such as edmettle and scrawlar.
If I had the power to make one significant change it would be to remove the numerical comparative grading system. Beginning in kindergarten, we have students who are encouraged to play, explore, create, think critically and collaborate yet we compare them to one another for assessment & evaluation. Creativity and critical thinking are quite difficult to measure numerically. Moving up the grades into intermediate, we continue to evaluate students on a common standard even though we are about to stream them for grade nine. I want applied students to feel success in elementary and I get discouraged when they have to be evaluated alongside "academic" kids. I wonder if grades yield an "fixed" mindset for this group of students.
Doug Peterson (@dougpete) - Retired teacher and consultant. Doug is known by many around the province for his work on behalf of teachers when it comes to technology. He continues to support ECOO and the Bring IT Together Conference and is a constant on social media.
Ensure that every school had a complete service library / resource centre, that it's staffed by a competent teacher-librarian, and that it is open throughout the day including before and after school.
Some great ideas here. What about you? If you had the power to change 1 thing, what would it be? I'd love to hear your thoughts!