Context.

Our students deserve better.

Just finished reading The Pitfalls of Reform: Its Incompatibility with Actual Improvement by John Tanner.  He concluded his thinking with that line.  “Our students deserve better.”

As with all good books that impact learners, his book has impacted me.  And that line really hit home.  I have been having that specific thought a lot lately.  But the context in which I have been having it has been a little unusual.

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Our wonderful communities recently supported a significant capital projects bond so we could build, update, and replace aging and overcrowded facilities.  Last week, during one of our leadership walkthroughs at our middle school, I was walking with our new high school principal.  He had spent little to no time in our middle school.  Our middle school is very old and it shows.  It’s the first building project we’re tackling with our communities’ support.  I said to him, as we were looking at the condition of the building, “Our students deserve better.”

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I’m wondering and thinking about what other contexts might produce that idea in one’s head?  Our students deserve better?  Beyond the context of facilities.

Contexts like the kids I had in my math classes so many years ago?  Where my teaching consisted of kids in rows, taking notes, then silently working on assignments?  Students deserve better.

Contexts like classroom management techniques focused on quiet?  Students deserve better.

Contexts like that last time some educators read anything was in college.  Students deserve better.

Contexts like building leaders simply managing buildings rather than being open learners, willing to try things and fail publicly.  Students deserve better.

One could keep going, but here’s the suggestion, for all of us in the education world.  As you go through your day,  as you do your work with teachers and/or kids, does that work, action, interaction, comment, idea, practice, or whatever compel you think, “Student deserve better”?

You might be surprised at the impact of the answer.  The impact can be pretty moving and poignant.  What one does next is the big question.

Context matters.  Students deserve better.

 

Author: Jeff Nelson

Jeff Nelson Fife School District Assistant Superintendent:Teaching-Learning-Innovation 36 years as an educator. 16 years teacher 3 years assistant principal 12 years principal 5 years Assistant Superintendent BA, Washington State University MAEd, Washington State University Previous member of AWSP Legislative Committee Previous member of UW Tacoma PEAB, Administrative Certification Established and maintained Fife’s first website for 7 years Present work includes establishing the first Teaching/Learning/Innovation department in the Fife School District. Examples of responsibilities include: teacher/administrator professional development, assessment, TPEP, curriculum/materials review, 24 credit requirement, technology levy leadership, teacher/administrator bargaining. Initiatives underway in Fife, as a result of new TLI Department: AVID, OER, Curriculum and Materials reviews, Student Perception Pilot with CSTP, Google Expedition Cofounder of Educational Internet Communications, LLC. Marketed and sold one of the first online grade checking programs in the US. Consulted with Seattle Educational Internet Company for 2 years. jnelson@fifeschools.com twitter.com/jeffnelsonTLI

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