Ideas, Influence, Impact

Posts tagged ‘ASCD’

If the Ladder is Leaning on the Wrong Structure …

“If the ladder is leaning on the wrong structure, it doesn’t really matter if you can climb it.”

At ASCD’s Leader 2 Leader (L2L) Conference this past weekend, participants were presented with an educational forecast by the KnowledgeWorks organization that demonstrated a significant shift in the workforce and our educational system.  Based on the presentation, a group of us educators decided to focus on what new system of education would be needed to fairly prepare our students for this new workforce and new society.

The group decided that a new system of education needed to focus on personalized learning, a system that supports anytime, anywhere, any pace, any pathway for student learning.  We believe that there needs to be greater student voice and student choice in student learning.  Students must have a greater say in what they learn, how they learn, how they demonstrate what they have learned, and how they know that they have learned.

Our current system of education does not adequately prepare students for the non-academic skills of flexibility, adaptability, problem solving, collaboration, and metacognition that are increasingly more important in the workforce.  Our 20th century education system is not the right structure to which we should be leaning our students and educators.

KnowledgeWorks provided the L2L participants with several new educator roles, roles that align to the guiding purpose of a personalized learning education system.  As we explore these new roles within a new paradigm of education, ASCD has a unique opportunity to lead this transformative change in educating our students.  Leading a massive overhaul of the country’s education system will not be easy, and ASCD has the reputation, resources and resolve to move this work forward for the betterment of our students.

First, ASCD has an opportunity to communicate a sense of urgency. KnowledgeWorks explained that the changes in society and workforce are already occurring, yet we still have an educational system that is not fully preparing students for these changes.

Second, ASCD has devoted significant time and resources to the Whole Child Initiative, making it one of the cornerstones of its work.  ASCD can review the five tenets of the Whole Child to demonstrate alignment with a personalized learning education system.

Third, like its work with Whole Child schools, ASCD could select pilot schools or districts across the country that can be leaders in the personalized learning education movement.  ASCD could create a network of support and collaboration that would allow the pilot schools to share resources and build collective capacity.  Further, ASCD can partner with foundations and businesses to provide funding to collect and share out this evidence of innovative practices.  ASCD affiliates could even help by sharing names of schools with ASCD and providing support closer to the field.

Fourth, a major area of leadership for ASCD could be with a new teacher development and evaluation system for personalized learning.  With increasing focus on teacher performance, ASCD could provide guidance into new teacher roles, feedback systems and evaluation tools to support the growth of educators in a personalized learning system.  This would be a major step to overhauling the current system.

Finally, ASCD can use its established social media tools – Twitter, ASCD Edge, and website – to share resources, establish collaboration networks, and highlight new practices.  The use of social media tools will allow for faster and broader dissemination of ideas and information, causing more educators to be involved in this important work.

We have the opportunity to “lean our ladder” on a new, more robust, more personalized educational system.  I hope ASCD helps lead the way for the betterment of our learners.


Rainbows and Reflections (#ASCD13)

The 2013 ASCD Annual Conference ( was a highlight of my career for many wonderful reasons.

1. I presented at my first national conference!  It was on personalized learning and competency-based education efforts in my school district and my state.  I was lucky to have my 6-12 principal, Josh Griffith, there with me to present.  It was great to connect with other educators passionate about this work and willing to share their questions and answers with me.

2. Two teachers from my district gave their first presentation at a national conference.  It was great to know that the passion and knowledge they share every day with their students was also shared with educators who can impact thousands of other students because of their message.

3. The individual presentations that I attended such as Design Thinking, Socratic Seminars, and Off the Clock (competency-based education) truly stretched my thinking.  All presenters demonstrated a passion for improving the educational system as well as specific strategies for supporting all learners in the system.

4. The session with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was informative and entertaining.  She explained to us her video game project, iCivics, as well as shared stories from her groundbreaking life.  Justice O’Connor had me thinking and chuckling at the same time.  She is an incredible woman, a great legal mind, and a late-in-life comic!

5. Finally, the general session with Dr. Maya Angelou will be an experience I hope I never forget.  Confined to a wheelchair with one eye going bad, Dr. Angelou energized the crowd, bringing fits of laughter and moments of tears.  She reminded all of us that we are “rainbows in the clouds” – sometimes in situations we may know, but many times in situations where we had no idea we made an imprint.  She shared stories from her life about the rainbows that guided her, supported her and nurtured her.  In turn, she applauded us for being rainbows to students, to parents, to community members and to educators both in the next classroom and around the world.  I am rarely speechless, yet Dr. Angelou said all that could – and should – be said for us.

I am a better educator now for having attending the 2013 ASCD Annual Conference.  I hope I can remain inspired by what I heard, saw, and felt.  I know my rainbow is needed!

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