I know I ramble but time is short and we have the podcast tonight. Here are some thoughts about the process of getting administrators onboard as we shift our schools…
Jeff has been running workshops on reviewing one’s school mission and I have been writing about how to integrate one’s mission and school-wide learning outcomes into everything you do in your school. So the first step is to work with one’s learning community to hire Jeff to come in and shake things up clearing off the table of outdated mission outcomes and opening up the discussion to what the community including students, parents and faculty believe in and value. Start with the basic questions of “what is learning and understanding?” and “What do our students need to learn?” and “How can we prepare them to be citizens skilled to handle a very changing world?”. I also like the idea of writing mission outcomes in the form of actions/skills/habits that are enduring and applicable to various situations. To say we want students to be “lifelong learners”, how about instead talking about the habits/skills of being critical thinkers and problem solvers that gives students the tools to be lifelong learners. Hopefully one’s school will see the value of the the learning 2.0 constructs that folks are writing about and discussing in the edublogosphere to make them central to their vision statements.
Once the mission/vision is developed and action plans are created to integrate it into the school’s culture, the next step is develop curriculum, instruction and assessments that will get one’s students to learn the critical thinking, problem solving, cooperative and collaborative learning skills that are hopefully in the mission outcomes that also includes an inquiry driven approach to learning that engages the students in discussions and learning with individuals outside the school walls.
Really focus is on Stage 1 of McTigue and Wiggin’s UbD process for all the curriculum units. It all comes down to what the enduring understandings we are teaching to. Administrators must collaborate in the curriculum review process. The conversations and unpacking of the standards into the EUs is where we bring the administrators on board to constructivist, inquiry, student-centered learning. We have to be ready to have the critical conversations asking administrators how we are to reach our schools’ mission statements dedicated to teaching students critical thinking, problem solving and cooperative learning skills so that they can be global, information savvy citizens ready to adapt to the every changing world. If our administrators are charged to deliver the educational experience to reach the mission and habits for learning, get them to explain how we can do it in classrooms that where the curriculum being taught doesn’t support the schools’ new mission statement. As we move to Stage 2 to develop the assessments and Stage 3 to create the learning activities, the administrator in the curriculum meetings should start coming onboard as we come up with ways to use information literacy and technology to assess and teach the students.
So how does all of this happen without the administrator being on board? It doesn’t. The hope is that by going through this process that the reluctant or simply not getting the picture administrator buys into the process to support the mission that was created by the community. We also must take items off our adminstrators’ plates to allow them to be the instructional leaders in our schools. Less is more especially when it comes to empowering administrators to focus their time on decisions that support learning.