New Year’s resolutions. We make them about what we’re going to stop and or start regarding our health, relationships, finances, balancing family and work, organization – so why not make a resolution to stop talking about educational reform and act! We’ve come to the point where we’ve had enough dialogue (dialogue refers to conversations the group engages in to come to a shared understanding of a topic. During dialogue the group or team explores ideas and issues, ask questions, reflects on current reality, and comes to an understanding of the groups’ perceptions. Dialogue does not including any decision-making) and now it’s time to shift into discussions (discussions refer to conversations that lead to a specific decision or plan of action. These conversations are more analytical, need to follow strong dialogue and stem from a shared understanding of the issues, and have to be focused on an outcome. It’s important that discussion don’t lead back into exploration of ideas). As a facilitator it’s critical to know when your group is ready or needs to shift into discussion and decision time. Staying too long in the dialogue phase is not productive and often leads to apathy, disinterest, or frustration about the topic. The facilitator in me is saying “it’s time to move on”.
We’ve had our dialogue and collective inquiry time and I believe come to consensus as educators on the topic of educational reform – just review the National Blogging for Education Reform posts from Nov. 22 – we’re all saying the same thing and know what education should look like for our students. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty, craft a vision to guide our discussions/decisions, dust off the books about Understanding by Design, and set a plan in motion.
Another critical element in educational reform and problem-solving of any sort is the Blame Game. Instead of continual conversations about whose to blame and the constant finger-pointing we need to ask ourselves these questions: What is/was my role in problem or system? What will I do to change, problem-solve, or make a difference? This is probletunity time – turn the problem into an oppoortunity to make positive, impactful, second-order change in education. Take charge of what you can make decisions about and do it. As a teacher, examine your instructional practices, educate yourself, understand the future world your students need to function in, create a PLN, and make changes in your classroom. As a building administrator or superintendent, create a vision for your school or district, empower and educate yourself and your staff, examine the systems in your school, make second-order change, think outside of the box, create and exemplify 21st century learning and skills.
Educate yourself, make informed and evidence-based decisions, aim high, be a leader, be a change agent!