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What is the Secret Sauce of School Change?

"There's an assumption that schools are for students' learning. Well, why aren't they just as much for teachers' learning?" - Seymour Sarason"I'm not asking you to change, I'm asking you to learn."
Missy Emler, Change School v3
Last Monday night and Cohort Three of Change.School was discussing change leadership and learning when Missy Emler dropped this gem on us from fifty thousand feet. Her follow-up comment was, "When people learn, people, systems, and organizations change." This simple, yet insightful comment has been rattling around in my head for the past few days.

While mowing the front yard the following evening, I begin thinking about famous individuals who went through some form of transformation, historical figures, sports heroes, celebrities in pop culture. What preceded their conversion? All of the situations I could think of supported Missy's assertion, there was some kind of challenge, a period of reflection, possib…
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Two More Cs Please

We are nearly twenty percent into the 21st century, and unless you've been trapped under an enormous rock, you've likely come across information about the Four Cs. Designed as a guide to better prepare learners for a modern world, the Four Cs provide a concise framework for pushing modern learning opportunities into the classroom. This publication from the National Education Association speaks to the Four Cs in precise detail.


"An Educator's Guide to the Four Cs"
Taking a page from the ISTE standards for students, what if we shifted the focus of these descriptors from actions to learner dispositions? We would be fostering the development of skills students will need to be valued members of a global community. These learner dispositions include:
Critical ThinkerCommunicatorCollaboratorCreator
While I heartily endorse the spirit of the Four Cs, I contend two dispositions are missing from this framework.
ContributorCultivatorAs someone who is reluctantly neck-deep in my …

Change.School; Because Who Wants to Struggle Alone? (3.0)

Change, as I have learned, can be a struggle. I've written previously about my fifty years of learning and teaching in schools, thinking this bought me some measure of credibility and expertise. However, I've come to discover my deepest, most impactful learning has not taken place in formal settings, but recently through social networks and communities of practice. Formal education needs to change to meet the needs of modern learners in a modern world. 

Struggle, my revelation that five decades of school-based experience means I have more to unlearn in my quest to help transform schools into centers of relevant, personal learning.Transformation is also a struggle, it's the unraveling and scrutinizing of years of doing what I believed was the right thing. Since my preference is to not struggle alone, I 've joined the third cohort of Change.School.



Not really a course, Change.School is a community of practice, a group of educators and thought-change leaders who are interes…

Engaging Students’ Parents in a Collaborative Digital Place

When parents support positive learning environments at home and are engaged in their child’s academic endeavors, students experience higher achievement and better educational outcomes. (1)


Open House, I am making my rounds, making sure all of our tech is working. After passing several empty classrooms, I catch a couple of my colleagues in mid-conversation.

“The crowd looks a bit thin this year.” said a social studies teacher holding a stack of blank, self-sticking name badges with “Hello, my name is…” printed in red letters across the top.

His associate from the Mathematics department said, “There are several empty classrooms in this hallway. I wonder where everyone could be?”

Has the traditional concept of parents’ night, or open house, become an exercise whose best, well-intentioned days, passed us by? As school personnel, are we not communicating, informing, and welcoming enough for today’s families? Maybe we have been inviting parental involvement when we should be fostering parental…

What Are Words For; Learning, Unlearning, and Relearning

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”-  Alvin Toffler


Bruce Dixon, from Modern Learners, says, "...no matter who you are, this time, right now, is a truly awesome time to be a learner."  While I agree with Bruce, his observation makes me wonder, "if this is such an awesome time to be a learner, why aren't we seeing numerous, wide-spread examples of awesome learning in schools?"
Where is learning happening most readily and effectively?What does it mean to be educated?How and when are modern learners becoming educated? The key to advancing our education, and creating innovative, relevant schools may rely on our willingness and ability to unlearn. How do we unlearn?

In his recent post, "The Urgency to Unlearn", Will Richardson acknowledges, "educators have learned through personal experience what constitutes an education, and we have learned as participant…

SchoologyNEXT-17; Bullet Points and Bacon

Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any better, Schoology's national, actually worldwide, conference, SchoologyNEXT, was no ordinary gathering. Take one part reunion, one part celebration, one part mind-blowing demonstrations, one part dinosaur bones, and one part bacon; grab a thousand friends and mix it all up with a giant spoon, and BAM, you've cooked-up the tastiest conference event of the year! 

Here are a few of my takeaways from this year's event, hosted at Chicago's McCormick Place, July 23rd through July 26th.




Kudos to the planning and marketing teams at Schoology. I attend about six conferences each year, the attention to detail is unlike anything I've experienced at any other event. The signage, the badges, the publications; it was effortless to plan and navigate this conference experience. Admittedly biased because I live forty minutes from downtown, Chicago provided a perfect backdrop for this event. Excellent choice!The variety and qualit…