I’ll admit it: I just watched my own session from EduCon 2.1 on video. Granted it’s not the whole thing, but it’s enough.
I didn’t know whether to take the athlete track or the celebrity track here: athletes do it without question, while celebs, when asked, never admit to watching their own movies. When it came down to it, I decided that watching would be so much easier to stomach than knowing it was out there and neglecting the chance to reflect on the session. Tony Gwynn used to do this for every at bat. Why can’t I?
After EduCon 2.0 last year, Dan and I came back a bit overblown by the whole thing. We knew what we were walking into, but sensing the passion the presenters had and the depths to which many of these people were willing to reach to change public schooling made us really reflect on what we were doing. What we heard was that “top-down” change was not enough. Grass-roots change had to happen in order for systemic change to sustain itself. We took that back and tried to make it happen through our actions.
That idea, that change had to be a marriage between administrative direction and teacher action, received yet another tweak as we learned through the weekend of January 23-25 that the student element was missing from our curriculum redesign process. We took our two major redesigns last year, Technology Career, and Consumer Sciences and our critical thinking class called Connections, and put them through the ringer with what we had learned from the sessions we had attended at EduCon 2.0. Now, a year later the idea that we haven’t included students to the level we need to is chasing me around as I plan to work with Visual and Performing Arts as they re-make their curriculum this summer. What’s their role? How much input should the greatest source of human capital in a school district have on the creation of curriculum? It’s no longer just a “top-down/bottom-up” issue, but instead it’s a “who should be in the room” issue.
Although he didn’t appear in the video of our session, Chris Lehmann popped into our session for the opening discussion. I’ll attribute these words to him:
“If we say that we believe in something, we should point toward something in your schools that show, illustrate those values, those beliefs (and how they resonate in the school community)”
And, although he didn’t say it officially until Sunday, he implied it all weekend: if you believe in something, show me where your actions, your systems, and your decisions make it true. We are at a point in our discussion and our study of what we know about about what works in education that we should be able to show in our own practice as educators what we are doing in light of our beliefs. That works for everyone from superintendents to students themselves. What are your ideals? Where can you show me in your practice that these are reflected? When we look at the inclusion of students in the curriculum redesign process, how does it reflect our beliefs about learning? About the students we teach?