Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Rather than create a power-point for the faculty meeting, I wanted to outline my thoughts on the magnet grant in narrative form. Please take the opportunity to read this so we can have an informed discussion at tonight's meeting.

Let's begin with the individual conversations we had last spring about the good parts of our school. During those meetings we dreamed of what could be possible for Brunson. We also ruminated about complacency which exists in all of us. We are a good school and sometimes, good is the enemy of Great.

So for me, news of change and the option of becoming a magnet school for STEM, was thrilling as it presented an opportunity to create! I deeply want to be a part of an organization that is willing to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn. I want to assist in building the capacity of all our faculty and staff to engage our students.

To do this we need to reverse the old adage, you have to see it to believe it. Now we will think, you have to believe it to see it! Creation requires the willingness to live with ambiguity. We do not have guarantees.

What we have is a mandate to restructure. Our school performance on AYP has not yielded the results required by the NCLB legislation. Therefore, we must make a plan for "Alternate Governance." Here is text about restructuring from the Title One Office.

Restructuring {section 1116(b)(8)(B)(i)-(v)}
The school listed above is subject to restructuring. An LEA with a Title I school designated for restructuring shall according to Section 1116(b)(8)(A)(i)-(iii):
• Continue to provide all students enrolled in the school with the option to transfer to another public school served by the LEA;
• Continue to make supplemental educational services available to eligible students who remain in school;
• Prepare a plan and make necessary arrangements to carry out alternative governance as outlined below.

Alternative Governance Section 1116(b)(8)(B)(i)-((v) states that an LEA with a Title I school designated for restructuring shall implement one of the following alternative governance arrangements consistent with state law beginning the school year following the year in which the LEA implements Section 1116(b)(8)(A)(i)-(v) above. To develop a plan for alternative governance, the school must use one of the arrangements listed below.
• Reopen the school as a public charter school;
• Replace all or most of the school staff (which may include the principal) who are relevant to the failure to make adequate yearly progress;
• Enter into a contract with an entity, such as a private management company, with a demonstrated record of effectiveness, to operate the school;
• Turn the operation of the school over to the State, if permitted under State law and agreed to by the State; or
• Any other major restructuring of the school’s governance arrangement that makes fundamental reforms, such as significant changes in the schools staffing and governance, to improve student academic achievement in the school and that has substantial promise of enabling the school to make adequate yearly progress as defined in the State plan under Section 111(b)(2).

The magnet grant meets the criteria of the final provision. We have the support of the Title One department, the Magnet schools department, the Instructional Services department and the Superintendent's office to make this opportunity a Transformative experience for students and teachers.

I will have some more information to share with you this evening and look forward to our conversation.

Below is a commentary that may spark your interest courtesy of Thinklab

January 04, 2007
"The Future of Learning" Manifesto (draft #1 -- 1.4.07) -- The shortened version:

1. "Playing Small Does Not Serve the World."
2. What Would Socrates Do?
3. Nobody Cares if You Walked Up Hill Both Ways Barefoot in the Snow.
4. Got Passion? If Not, I'll Tell You What To Care About.
5. My Memory Is Only As Big As My Heart. Otherwise, I'll Stick with Google
6. Look it Up or Die.
7. Collaboration Ain't About Holding Hands. It’s about Going Cool Places Fast.
8. This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record.
9. It Ain't About the Technology. It's About Being Inside the Story.
10. Nobody Knows the Answer. Get Comfy with the Questions.


"The Future of Learning" Manifesto (draft #1 -- 1.4.07) -- The long version:

1. "Playing Small Does Not Serve the World."-- Your Brain is Your Brand.

Marianne Williamson wasn't being cheap with words. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. Or that we're simply being measured by small dreams.

You've got one choice. Play big or stay home. Serve the world or be forgotten.

Ultimately, you've got your heart and your brain. Both can serve. One will do so when nobody is watching. The other is your brain. It needs attention. Give it fuel. Make it stand out. Be the brand that makes a difference.

2. What Would Socrates Do?

If Socrates could Google, what questions would he have asked?

Am I being rhetorical?

Does it matter?

Ask Jeeves.

3. Nobody Cares if You Walked Up Hill Both Ways Barefoot in the Snow and Could Diagram a Sentence.

I get it. You were a noble student of the highest caliber 'back in the day' before text messaging and cell phones and this wacky Internet business. You were a fine speller, you kept your notebook neatly on your desk, and you always answered something "above average" with your hand politely raised in the air. You memorized the multiplication tables all the way to 12, you studied Latin (and its sus scrofa domesticus-Latin brother), and you believed Sputnik was the cat's meow. You had neat penmanship, you knew all the dates of all the battles and all the dead people, and you kept a glorious stash of index cards with obscure library resources neatly bound by a rubber band.

And if you're dead set on helping me master 'your past', please realize I'm going to need a nap. And something to fidget with. And a bus token to get to my job down at the buggy whip factory where I'll be standing at the front of the line.

Or, you can help me prepare for my future. Your choice.

4. Got Passion? If Not, I'll Tell You What To Care About.

I have a right to bitch about this class only if I have a dream I can articulate and am willing to put my life on the line for it. Otherwise, I might as well color between the lines, sit up straight, and take great notes.

And get out to recess on time.

Keep in mind, I may be young so I may have a hard time with that "r-tickle-a-shun" thing. That's your job. Give me the words. Give me the tools. Give me the examples. And then get out of my way.

But the second you see my passion start to go from curious lit match to smoke-jumper forest fire, stop giving me handouts and worksheets and become my Jerry McGuire.

5. My Memory Is Only As Big As My Heart. Otherwise, I'll Stick with Google.

I could memorize your facts, but I got Google for that.

Yeah, completely outsourced my entire "traditional fact memorization" protocol to this upstart search engine. Yeah, like a library, 'cept that there ain't no dust and much, much bigger. Yeah, it's not perfect, but I'm not going on Jeopardy, either. Yeah, there isn't a librarian holding my hand, but then again I need answers now. Not after a lecture on the Dewey Decimal thinga-ma-bob.

Sure, I'll do that memorize thing for you. Just one catch. Tell me a story.

Seriously. Put away the chalk. Get out from behind the podium. Look me in the eyes. Reach deep into my gut. Massage my heart. Get the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. Get me to tell the flavor of clouds. Tell me to close my eyes and go somewhere bold.

I'll remember anything you tell me. Swear it.

6. Look it Up or Die.

It's old skool but sometimes remind me to look it up. Or die.

But don't stop there. Don't pat yourself on the back quite yet. I may be pretty quick on the Google or the Wikipedia, but I have no idea how to make sense of what I'm finding. That's your job.

Back in the day, if it was in a book, you taught me how to write down some copyright details on a note card. But things got funny on the way to the Internet forum. Facts don't just come in books anymore, and I need more than copyright details to help me make sense.

Are you teaching me to think? Or just to take notes?

And one day when you're nowhere to be found and I got a kid with a fever and he's vomiting and its 3am and I got 15 minutes to figure this crazy thing out, I got Google. And I need to know NOW what will keep my kid alive and what will instead send us over the edge.

Can you do that? 'Cause that's one part of my future and I won't have time for index cards.

7. Collaboration Ain't About Holding Hands. It's about Going Cool Places Fast.

How big is my classroom? 4 walls or the horizon line?

I need friends. And fast.

Don't get sucka-punched by all the 'flat' earth hype. You're excited because someone in a foreign country leaves a comment on your blog. Really? Really? Seriously? Sure, it's sexy to suddenly be in cahoots with someone in Bangladesh and Minneapolis at one time, but I was born in that world 2.0 so I'm kinda used to it. Yeah, I get that you were born before things got interesting, but your digital immigrant accent is making it hard for me to understand you, and harder for me to remain relevant.

And I'm kind of selfish when it comes to my future vs. your past.

So, please stop making this so Friedman-esque and suggesting I need more math so my job isn't outsourced to Calcutta one day. And I ain't got time for your geek blog-penpal moment, either.

What I need is a network. And yesterday-fast.

Are you helping me get networked? Are you helping me become one talented hombre when it comes to partnerships and brainstorming with a team and finding talent when I need it and learning how to step up big as a leader and then slide seamlessly into the role of teammate and be the go-to guy on 20 projects at one time? Are you helping me build and position my brand? Are you helping me be relevant? At all?

Are you making sure I'm going cool places? And fast?

8. This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record.

You used to worry about the manilla folder. Then things really got interesting.

Today you worry about filters and predators and firewalls and the MySpace boogeymen.
Okay, I want to be safe. And I appreciate you wanting me to be safe. I just don't want to live in a locked box in the process.

So, maybe it's time we had a sit-down and talked about the 'how-to' strategy for social networking. What? Oh, I mean blogging. What? Yeah, like a diary. Sort of.

Instead of shutting off every virtual connection I have with the world once I step onto campus, why don't you teach me how to 'blog smart'? Why don't you bring in some CEO's into the classroom to talk about the really 'great' kid they almost hired, until they Googled her and found those clever spring break shots from Padre Island? Why don't you get a MySpace account and come see what I'm writing, even if it p***es me off at the moment? Why don't you make me agile, rather than weak?

Oh, and why are you asking my teachers to deliver a world class education for the 21st century knowledge economy but you've censored every virtual tool they have at their disposal? Frankly, I'm not sure why they give a damn. I wouldn't if I were them.

But then I'd be blogging my brains out at home after I punched out at the end of the school day. And then become a consultant and get 10x the pay from the same superintendent who hired me to come in and do a professional development day when "blogging" was trendy for 5 minutes.

9. It Ain't About the Technology. It's About the Story.

Laptops? (Yawn)
Blogging? (Yawn)
PowerPoint? (Snore)
Multi-Media Center with a Starbucks 'coffee house' espresso shot in the backside? (Daring? 21st century school? Yawn.)

How about we stop talking all giddy-like about the technology. For us, it's not about the box. Not even about the iPod in pink or black. And it's definitely not about the email (psst: we don't email 'cept when old people need help).

It's about the conversation. The ricochet of words. The energy. The fact that its happening right here right now and it ain't coming back.

You tell me to turn off the game. Because you're staring at the box. I can't turn off the game. Because the game ain't in the box.

So, stop making technology such a big deal. You want laptops. I got a cell phone. And you still don't get it.

'cause no matter what you spend your money and professional development time on, for us it's about being inside the game, inside the story, in real-time.

Everything else is over-priced and ready for recycling.

10. Nobody Knows the Answer. Get Comfy with the Questions.

If you're so smart, why are you asking me to give you the answers?

More importantly, are you teaching me how to ask great questions?

How to be Socrates? And the guys who actually code Google by asking the questions nobody else dreamed of?

I can tell you an answer. But my future isn't going to care for what I memorized. It's only going to care if I can adapt.

Are you ready to help me?

And can I trust you to help me get there?


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