Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Never too late

This is a link to an interesting article about a former teacher, now an author, who finally learned to read after many years of not having that ability. On the one hand, it is a testament to the fact that we are never too old to learn yet the amazing thing is that, while he was illiterate, he got a job teaching.

The story brought me back to the point of life-long learning that we try to instill in our students (and staff for that matter.) The world is changing rapidly and those persons who use their ability to adapt and learn will have more opportunity than those who don't. When I hear of adults learning to read, I am encouraged to know that we are all capable of continued learning if we put our minds to it. If you haven't learned something new recently, it's time to start.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Creating Change

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi

11%. Roughly 1 out of 10. That is the number that speaker Marianne Williamson says is needed to create change. In the short video snippet I saw, she did say that social scientists have come up with that number and the Women's suffrage and Civil Rights movements were used as examples and it makes sense. Not everyone is going to be thrilled about change, not everyone is going to commit to making change happen, but if a relatively small number of committed individuals driving change can force an entire nation to change, then I would think the same thing can happen at any level, state, district, or school.

As I thought about that number, I began to think about what that would mean for different districts. Getting four persons to drive a change could get an organization of 36 moving. Eight persons could move an organization of 72 and so on. Four or eight is not a huge number.
All it takes is one person to convince two others and those two to convince two each and the number is now five, including the original change agent. The key to that, is the first person.

The concept is interesting and I will continue to try to find the research that goes into that number.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


This is a link to an interesting post about change in education. The premise of the article is a comparison between the symbolic action of dumping tea in Boston Harbor prior to the American Revolution and throwing something out the window to symbolize the change necessary in education. What would you throw out the window to start the revolution?

I've thought quite a bit about that question and I can't seem to come up with a good analogy. The clock came up in the article because learning has become a 24/7 event. Students can get on a computer at any time of day and learn virtually anything they choose to study. Having students sitting in a classroom for a prescribed number of minutes seems to be restrictive. We should be offering students opportunities to expand their knowledge in methods that work for them.

As well as the clock works as a symbol for the change that is needed in education, I have a sense there is something else, although I can't quite put my finger on it. So I ask you again, what would you throw out the window?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Setting goals-realistically

I read an article this morning on setting achievable goals. Many of you may have heard of SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. To me, the biggest question of those five has to be the realistic part. Couple the attainable with the timely and you come to the point of realistic. However, one person's realistic goal can be another person's unrealistic expectation.

The point of the article was to set goals that stretched us, but did not put us over the edge. For example, setting a goal of losing 50 pounds in 3 months would seem rather ambitious (and possibly unsafe.) Whereas a goal of losing 50 pounds in a year might be more realistic and manageable. An educational example for a school district might be to move all students to proficient on a certain assessment in one year. Depending on the number of students below proficient and how far each is below that score, that goal may be too steep. The district may have to adjust the timeframe for completion. Setting goals that are too difficult can lead to frustration and eventually failure.

I am an idealist, however. And I tend to think that nothing is impossible, that we just haven't figured out how to make our extremely lofty goals happen. Maybe it's time to start breaking down goals into long-term and short-term objectives and see if that helps in the process. Going back to the goals you have set for the new year, check to see if they are SMART.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Decision-making tool

I read an interesting article on decision-making this past week. Part of the article dealt with making a decision between two competing choices. In the decision-making process, the author applied what she called the "two-two-two rule." To quote, " I ask myself, 'What will be the impact on both sides (of the decision) two weeks from now, two months from now, and two years from now?'"

This is an excellent tool to use when trying to make a difficult decision. Many times, the future impact is not recognized or fully thought out and a decision may be made in haste. This method forces a person to think of the results for actual timeframes before making a decision.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Don't Blink

I've heard that phrase used in different ways, but not in the way this blog post by Seth Godin mentions. It is a very interesting thought. The difference between being remarkable and average, maybe?