Friday, September 19, 2014

Growing and Achieving: We're up for the Fight!

Academic growth does not come easy.  All of us do not just grow up to learn, read, write, calculate without help, direction, purposeful teaching and learning, and without an environment that nurtures all of the above.  In fact, the reality is there are parts of our culture and interests that compete with or even resist learning and growing academically.

Reading for example is a complex process that takes days, months and even years to master. The English language, by the way, is one of the most complex languages and is four to five fold more difficult to learn, to read and interpret as compared to many other languages.

Beyond the complexity of academic learning are the elements students and parents have to endure, including a pop culture that sends the message that schoolwork and learning are far from "cool."  And of course there is that ever present societal message of instant gratification and immediate success, all devoid of hard work and sacrifice.

There are several inhibitors to the work that needs to be done in and outside of classrooms and schools that could be illustrated ad nauseam, but the point is the efforts made toward academic learning is swimming upstream.

After we understand this reality and understand the challenges, we do not keep our focus on them.  Instead we are strategic in paying attention to the solutions.  We are purposeful in winning the "fight" of the battle toward all students' learning and achieving.  We are not fighting people, kids, or each other, but we are fighting pressures, and movements, and harmful thinking.  We do so by using tools and strategies that promote education, make learning fun and interesting, and exalt big thinking that creates vision for staff and students.  We create a culture that pushes out the culture that resists educating kids.

The important idea is recognizing:

#1. We are in a battle, and that is precisely the reason we use the words "relentless" and phrases like "for all to improve" in our mission statement.  See District Learning Plan:

#2.  We have a strategy, and every battle needs a plan to win.  (See Learning Plan)

What drives our passion is the fact we are in a good fight.  I do not know a better way of stating the fact that the fight is for the welfare of precious human lives.  A good fight is one we win if we are relentless and stick to our plan!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Where Does Technology Fit?

The graphic represented on this page says a great deal about who we are, what we believe, what we are doing and how we are doing it.  Notice one cannot tell we depend a great deal on technology to do what we do.  The reason is we recognize the use of technology is a means to an end and not an end in itself.

In the same light, the reason we use technology to increase student engagement and learning is due to the messages and meaning of the graphic representation of our District Foundation.  For example, a district foundational philosophy is "every student can and should learn" drives our decisions in doing everything possible to provide tools and the wherewithal for learning to occur for student.  Combine that philosophy with the message from our mission statement: "We are relentless in creating an environment for all to improve mind, character and body."

The message is to do everything possible to set everybody up for success.  Among many other important items having the tools to get the job done for staff and students is vital.  Doesn't it make sense for schools to have the same tools available for communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity that exist in the world outside of school?

We have four goals that are built on academic achievement, 21st Century learning and safety.  In order for us to achieve our goals, we have to have the best to be the best and do the best!