It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer
meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for
in movement there is life, and in change there is power.
Have you ever been part of something so significant that it almost seems surreal? Have you ever personally seen your vision, your hard work, your passion become a reality?
Well I have. These last two years working on the 21st Century Learning project with the Alabama Best Practice Center funded by a Microsoft Partners in Learning grant have been incredible. Witnessing the culture shift of the teachers in the 40 schools we served across Alabama has been so affirming. It has instilled in me the faith that it is not as some say, too late for public schools, but rather schools can and are making principled changes in keeping with the needs of the 21st Century learner.
My friend and colleague John Norton, educational writer and virtual community champion, and Cathy Gassenheimer, Managing Director of the A+ Education Foundation and president of the Alabama Best Practice Center and I developed a two year professional development opportunity around the question--
How do education leaders effectively promote the knowledge, skills and sense of urgency for 21st Century teaching and learning among all the teachers in their schools?
In our two-year pilot project we sought to maximize our available resources by adopting a “champion-building” approach to spreading awareness and interest in
Web-based teaching strategies.
We asked each principal in our 40 participating schools to select a
five-teacher team to join our 21st Century Schools professional
development community. Each team agreed to share what they learned with
their own faculties, including the rationale behind the urgency for
change, and the exciting possibilities of technology-infused learning.
Our goal was not to train teachers to use technology (a massive undertaking far
beyond our means) but to create “aha” moments among creative,
forward-thinking teachers by introducing them to the concepts of
“Classroom 2.0”. We hoped they would be intrigued by – and ultimately
be champions for - web 2.0 and other social
networking tools as a means for engaging students in higher order learning
Currently, I am in deep analysis of the data we have collected to look at outcomes and measured success of the project. But we also have collected a great deal of anecdotal evidence that this change initiative is one that has potential to scale in changing the culture of schools, the practice of teachers, and the processes we use to educate our children.
Want to see what I mean? We went to the schools in our project looking for evidence that our curriculum and process had made an impact.
Want to be inspired? Take a look at what we found!
Rather have print copies? Here is our newsletter for year 1 & 2 of this project.