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Forty-one posts later…

…I have spent some time rereading the titles of the forty-one blog posts I have written this year and cherry-picked a few to reread so that I would have some sense of how to tie up in a neat bow my adventure in blogging this year.  Rather than regurgitate that which you are welcome to reread yourself, I though I would share an illustrative anecdote that took place last week:

I received an email a few weeks ago from the head of a community day school in the Midwest asking if I would be willing to Skype with her and her technology teacher about how our school began its path towards 21st Century Learning.  I went through some of my prior blog posts, did a little searching on Twitter, reviewed a chapter or two in Curriculum 21 and scheduled the call.  We had a lovely hour-long chat on Skype – during which I had occasion to reference, among other things, blogfolios, digital farms, back-channels, digital immigrants, nings, wikis and GoogleDocs.  It was a very nice call and I look forward to continued collaboration with our new friends.

When it comes to reflecting on my own work and having that reflection made transparent – one raison d’être for having a blog in the first place – my big takeaway from this school year that was, is that prior to July of last summer, I would have been utterly unable to define any of the words highlighted in red let alone speak of them intelligently. The idea that during the course of one school year, I have come from almost utter ignorance to presenting at conferences and fielding requests for consultation is almost preposterous.  And yet here we are…

There is nothing unique about me that allowed for this to happen.  I promise.  It took a village (and a book) to teach me basic skills and the (peer) pressure of trying to live up to the expectations already put in place by the school I had been hired to head.  I kinda had no choice, but to begin blogging and Tweeting or else I’d be left behind my own teachers!

My story is really the story of the last two years of our school writ small.  There was nothing particularly unique about our school that would have led you to conclude that it would one day stake out a leadership position in 21st century education.  We were, and are, a relatively small K-8 Solomon Schechter Day School in the relatively small Jewish community of Jacksonville, Florida.  And yet here we are…

It doesn’t take millions of dollars and it doesn’t take a surfeit of faculty.  It doesn’t require expertise in advance and it doesn’t require knowing the end of the journey before you take the first step.  You don’t need SMART Boards, iPads, and laptops to adopt a 21st century mindset.  It is not about the “stuff” (not that the “stuff” doesn’t help…it does)!

We have tried in our school to stop using “21st Century Technology” as a synonym for “21st Century Learning”.  Technology requires “stuff”; Learning requires “people”.  It isn’t that the technology is unimportant – there are certain minimum thresholds of technology necessary to walk the path.  But most schools can reach that threshold with creative budgeting and fundraising.  Harder than accumulating the stuff is changing the paradigm.  It doesn’t take an endowment to revolutionize your educational philosophy – it takes teachers, administrators, parents and students.  And every school has those.

 

We have exciting plans here at the school for this summer and the year to come.  I look forward to planting those seeds next week.  As I prepare to turn the page on this school year and begin writing the chapter on the next, let me pause to thank those who read this blog and even more those who comment.  I am frequently challenged trying to produce a blog post of sufficient quality each week to be worthy of publication.  I don’t know that I always reach the goal, but I am always grateful for the opportunity.

Let summer begin…


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