Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Vision without a Plan is a Hallucination

At Hoover High School, we have been riding the wave of excitement of putting iPads in the hands of all of our teachers and our senior class in August. Teachers are trying new apps and integrating technology into their instruction. Students are using apps to be more organized and can be seen using iPads in a variety of ways, enhancing their learning. In my opinion, morale is high and teachers are collaborating and working together more than ever.

We have to ask ourselves the following questions: How do we sustain this excitement and make this more than just a shiny new tool? How to we ensure that all stakeholders know and understand the vision that we have for the Engaged Learning Initiative? How do we ensure that this initiative is about improving our instruction with the use of technology?

This week I attended the International Society for Technology in Education’s Leadership Forum 2012 (isteLF12), in Indianapolis, Indiana. Educational leaders who are working to integrate technology into the classroom from all over the world attended this conference. The conference was led by outstanding administrators such as Chris Lehmann (@chrislehmann). Chris is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA. The Science Leadership Academy is an inquiry-driven, project-based, 1:1 laptop school that is considered to be one of the pioneers of the School 2.0 movement nationally and internationally.

As you can tell by the description of Chris, he is a revolutionary leader. Here are just a few of the profound things that Chris discussed at isteLF12.

- With the current accountability systems in place in schools, all of the amazing things that kids are doing do not matter unless they perform well on standardized tests.

- Teachers are struggling with the question: Is school relevant? Am I relevant?

- Schools can teach us how to learn. Schools can teach us how to live. This MATTERS to EVERYONE!

- What is a modern school? What does it look like?

- Technology unlocks the human potential of our students and our teachers

- We have to change the way our teachers talk about our students.

- Schools must be inquiry driven.

- Seek out more complex answers and seek out areas of discomfort in kids thinking and push them to new levels.

- We have to seek more complex answers from our students. The world is seeking complex answers. We are not preparing the students for the tests, but for the world.

- We have to optimize person to person time through technology.

- We have to talk and listen to learn. This enables more collaboration.

- We have to unlock passion. Schools should be places of passion (and we are not talking about PDA in the hallway!)

- Kids ask, “Why should I learn this?” and we respond “You are going to need this someday”. We have to make curriculum and learning relevant now, in the present to get students to learn.

- Dare kids to do things that matter.

So when we look at this list of things that are important to students and to learning, the question emerges, “How do we get there?” According to Chris, these things have to be in place:

Vision- What do we believe? What do we want?
Model- We have to model what
Build systems and structures of support
Common language of curriculum, teaching, and learning
Care for the teachers so that they will care for the students


I heard one of the speakers at the conference say that a vision without a plan is a hallucination. The great things that are going at Hoover High School cannot be a hallucination. We have to keep our vision strong and find ways to model, build systems of support, share a common language, and care for each other. We can do this, we can be one school. We are Hoover!

Follow Chris Lehmann on Twitter: @chrislehmann

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