This morning and yesterday morning both I had the honor of attending the Flat Classroom Conference in Qatar and the Educon 2.1 conference in Philadelphia, both remotely. What was funny was that I felt such a sense of community in the chat rooms talking to students and to other wired educators, sometimes more of a sense of community than I feel where I work, even though we were half a world apart, and many of us had never met in person. The sense of community was formed by a shared sense of purpose.
This led me to ask all sorts of questions of myself about what I want in an educational community, what fulfills me (and perhaps fulfills some students?) and which is perhaps another post. But echoing in my thoughts after Educon were questions Will Richardson asked in his presentation yesterday and ones that were brought up by Andy Carvin and the panel this morning.
Questions like “What should we leave behind” and “What should we keep” as we make changes, and questions like “How scalable is change?” In the chat room this morning while listening to the Educon panel, we had a lively debate about this.
Is it different when talking about an existing school versus a brand new school? I wonder how one creates a new sense of community in an existing school? How do you invite people into the vision and ward off skepticism and get buy-in and really build a community of common purpose.
I also wonder if you have a vision for a school district, how do you scale that–or if you have something that works at one school, how replicable is it across a district?
So much of education is in the art of it–which really depends on the skill and talent of individual educators, (who are unique individuals and not replaceable) and the skill of leaders in particular. But the culture of a school, which is so critical to change–how can that be conveyed across a district or across multiple districts? Is that excitement of an environment that works scalable? Or is it just kismet, a happy “accident,” a magical blending of time and people and place?
Does the business world have something to help us in terms of these questions? How does a business like Apple or Toyota or Google sustain their corporate culture throughout their business? What strategies do they use? And how do you reach beyond a core group of teachers to create this new climate when perhaps people like the status quo?–status quo being something that seems pretty entrenched in education sometimes.
I left Educon this year(having only participated online in a few sessions) just as engaged and awed by the interactivity and excitement going on in the school for those kids as I did a year ago. And also awed by the enthusiasm, vision, and dedication of educators from all over the country(and world) who attended, either in person or remotely. How do we spread/share this sort of enthusiasm, innovation, and energy with others–the kind of energy that brought the Flat Classroom Project to life? If only we could harness that energy it could light up so many of our schools, and shine light for so many of our students.
(hint: Maybe Chris Lehmann should start a “leadership” academy at SLA to train/encourage/mentor future leaders?)
Okay, I’ve asked lots of questions, as is my habit in a post….but I really would love to hear your thoughts, musings, writings, and readings that you want to share.
Ironically, the quote on the sidebar of my blog today is: “After all is said and done, more is said than done. Aesop” So, how do we harness all of this and bring it into some sustainable form?