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Are we turning off millenial employees?

Jen LaMaster said:

I’ve been reading this post … from EdTech Magazine about how millennials use technology. Not the usual “how to make a millennial happy” stuff… but data on their use of mobile technology to create, consume, and collect information. The article claims that cellphones are the most popular device but that “computers” are a close second for productivity. The intersection of two being in cloud tools linking the quick access/communication device with the productivity of a full operating system. True multi-channel users in a mobile world.

What does this mean for the average educational administrator? This is our hiring pool. The article cites a corporate-sponsored study where they claim that millennials make up 37% of the current workforce with a projection of 75% of the workforce by 2025.

Our position as education administrator challenges us to hire, promote, and retain employees who use technology in innovative and productive ways (ISTE Admin Standard 4C). How are our classroom policies stifling these mobile, multi-channel young educators? Could some of our reported teacher shortage be related to a lack of willingness to embrace a generation who uses technology outside our control boundaries? As I evaluate and hire young faculty, I’ll admit I have to check some of my 46-year-old parameters at the door. But are we really ready to welcome this next generation of teachers for their strengths and talents?

Transform, not reform

Greg Whitby said:

more businesses are moving away from improving old models to responding to the changing needs of consumers (and employees) within the context of a rapidly changing world. In addition, real time data has helped to create a whole new paradigm for doing things differently, thinking creatively and responding immediately.

On the flip side, education is still wedded to the improvement model; looking for enhanced solutions to old problems. We operate on the assumption that we can control the variables, link performance to accountability measures and tighten up processes. Where are the innovative solutions?

Improvement is no longer the challenge so let’s use educational conferences and colloquiums to focus on how we change the system not how we fix it. As Sir Ken Robinson says the challenge is not to reform but to transform.


Can we answer this question satisfactorily for our students?

Paul Sinanis, middle school student, said:

I don’t understand the point of school. What’s the point? Everything that I am interested in and connects to my world doesn’t ever come up in school, so what’s the point?


Let kids make informed decisions about real things in the real world

Young boy looking through round bubble window into giant aquarium

Will Richardson said:

Sure, the CCSS wants to promote and measure critical thinking skills. But the CCSS wants that to happen in the context of contrived situations within an increasingly irrelevant curriculum that most kids don’t care about and will forget as soon as the test is over. Applying those “skills” to the complexities of real life situations doesn’t much transfer if you don’t care about what you’re thinking critically about in the first place.

Give kids the freedom to make “informed decisions” about things they care about, real things in the real world, things that probably aren’t in the standards or on the test, and we’ll get a lot farther down the road to preserving what’s left of this experiment in democracy.


Image credit: the bubble, Eleni Preza

The exam sham


Mike Crowley said:

Teachers are being judged and schools rated based on test and exam results. How many kids are getting into Yale and Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge, we are perpetually asked. I have yet to be asked, how many of your students go to the college that is right for them? … how many are pursuing their passions? … how many are leading happy, fulfilling lives and believe that the curriculum was relevant to their daily, real-world challenges? No, we rarely ask the right questions.


Image credit: Harvard, Anne Helmond

Become a reading warrior

Joy of reading

Pernille Ripp said:

I declare myself a reading warrior, and I believe you should as well. No more reading logs to check whether kids are reading. No more levels used to stop children from self-selecting books they actually want to read. No more timed standardized tests to check for comprehension. Being a fast reader does not mean you comprehend more. No more reading projects that have nothing to do with reading. No more reading packets to produce a grade that stops students from talking about books. No more rewards; prizes, stickers, lunches with the principal. We cannot measure a great reader by how many pages a school has read, so stop publishing it. Don’t publish your test scores. Don’t publish your AR levels. Publish instead how many children have fallen in love with a book. How many recommendations have been made from student to student. Publish how many books have needed to be replaced because of worn pages. Publish that, and be proud of the teachers that dare to speak up to protect the very thing we say we hold sacred.

Be a reading warrior, because for too long we have hoped that the decisions being made are always in the best interest of a child when we know at times they are not. No child is helped when we protest in silence, when we protest in the teacher lounge, or in our homes. We have to find the courage to speak up for the very students we serve. We have to practice being brave. We have to allow students to read books that they choose, to give them time to talk about their books rather than fill out a packet, and to allow them to self-monitor how much reading they are doing and then believing them when they tell us their truth. It is time for us to stand up and speak up. It is time to take back our reading instruction and truly make it about what the kids need and not what others tell us that they need.


Image credit: Joy of reading, Lord Marmalade

It’s time to move away from simple questions about technology integration

Adam Copeland said:

It is time for instructors to move from simple questions like, “Do you use technology in the classroom?” to the more complex, “For what purpose, and with what learning theories, should I engage digitally-enhanced pedagogies?” I have suggested a way forward that I have found useful, an initial attempt explicitly to address why, and for what reasons, I have proceeded with digital practices in the classroom. These four pillars – forming collaborative relationships with peers, preparing for citizenship, encountering difference and disagreement, and welcoming complexity – represent four possible emphases, and surely there are others. A teacher may wish to emphasize a particular pillar more than others. You and I can, together, develop practices that match with our courses, our pedagogical gifts, and our particular subject matter. Ultimately, I invite us to move away from easy answers, whether for or against technology in the classroom. The nature of these challenges still defies simple conversations around the departmental coffee pot, so let us, with digital wisdom, welcome the questions.


Our teacher discussion protocol, trudacot, can help with this!

Summer school for kindergarteners


Valerie Strauss said:

curriculum has been pushed down so much that kindergarten is no longer a time for kids to learn and socialize through play but rather for a lot of desk time with academic assignments. Sure, some schools break up the time so kids don’t sit there hour after hour, but the pressure on young children to learn to read and do math – even if they aren’t developmentally ready – and on teachers to ensure that they do learn – has become extraordinary.

Providing quality summer programs for young children is a laudable goal – and something school systems and city governments should offer. But requiring 5- and 6-year-olds to go to summer school so they can labor over academics is something else entirely.


Image credit: Kindergarten, Here We Come, Howard County Library System

We could surprise them and they could see that we are good kids


Katrina Schwartz said

Many students at [Los Angeles Unified School District’s Roosevelt High School] felt the news media had mischaracterized their school and its students as criminals for figuring out how to get around the iPad’s security features, often to access educational information.

“We were really caught up in how they kept calling Roosevelt ‘hackers,’” said Daniela Carrasco, a former student.

[Mariela] Bravo doesn’t understand why the district would give students iPads with so many limitations. Her peers were looking up homework help on YouTube – and yes, checking Facebook, too – but that’s part of life.

“They have to trust us more,” Bravo said. “We could surprise them and they could see that we are good kids.”

Students were frustrated that the district couldn’t see that negotiating distractions on the Internet is part of life now. “We should have been trusted with those websites,” Carrasco said. “Instead of blocking them, there should have been emphasis on how to use those websites for good.”


More nuanced responses from the students than the district…

Image credit: criminals crew_07, Phiesta’s way

When students develop learning objectives based on the standards

Steve Carroll said:

When we transitioned to Common Core we did an unpacking the standards process. More importantly, after we got through that process, we started a backwards design where we developed questions and learning objectives based upon the standards themselves and then translated that into assessment. Probably the biggest gains came after we let students start developing learning objectives based on the standards. We would actually give the students the standards and ask them, ‘What would you have to be able to do show mastery of this?’ The students themselves developed learning objectives.


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