Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Year in Review

Looking back on 2011 reminds me it was an interesting year to say the least.
I did travel more than before with multiple trips to Charlotte, eastern North Carolina, Charleston, SC, Atlanta and West Palm Beach for accreditation and family reasons.
However, this was the year I moved from the stable environment of a school setting to forging out on my own as a consultant /trainer. Leaving behind friends, cohorts and a regular paycheck was difficult but it made me realize who and what matters in my life. All of a sudden I had free time. I have enjoyed spending more time blogging, tweeting and networking with my PLN but it has taken me time to adjust to a non regimented schedule.
Life is good though, I'm a glass half full kind of person. There are more positives with this move than negatives. Having been a principal, I don't miss the parents who actually believed the teacher really hated their child or having to defend teachers against the "enlightened" parent who happened to watch Oprah's show on education. Or the parents who wanted a minute to "run something by me" but were still talking hours later. I don't miss the teachers who were hopelessly stuck in the past or believed their little area of  K-12  is all that's important with no empathy for the total program. I do miss the friends and teachers who stood with me as we ventured into the 21st century and the students who always brought a smile to my face.
All in all, 2012 promises to be another interesting year. There are many questions about the future I would like to have answered but I don't live in a "only one right answer" world. I have a feeling there will be a 21st century solution where there may be more than one right answer from which to choose and that's fine too. It's exciting, I'm doing what I enjoy, teaching about a passion of mine, learning in the 21st century. 2012 should be another interesting year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The old school needs to close!

"I'm from the old school" is a phrase I hear from time to time as a response to the wave of change arriving at our educational doorstep. Here's my view of the old school. It  prepared students for jobs where someone told them exactly what to do. It prepared them for jobs that are now disappearing due to outsourcing overseas or more efficient software. For example, if you make a reservation at a hotel or on a flight,  do you really need to talk to a person or can you do it online?
Despite this reality, schools continue to churn out students who are stuck looking for 20th century jobs. Every year, millions are trained to do 1955 labor. Teachers giving students the way to solve problems instead of allowing students to search and create.
Currently, we have a mass production model of education. Sir Ken Robinson compares it to the fast food industry. Everything is standardized creating a single processed type of education - think old school. He argues we need a more fine dining, Zagat's rating, type of system where individual strengths can be maximized. Yes you can have it your way. Allow collaboration, conversation and creativity. Students participate and teachers become facilitators.
Until we personalize education and require each student to learn, until we create ways to ensure this learning occurs, we will continue wallowing in the past depriving our students of their potential.

Mr. Gerry Kosater

There are two paths you can choose but there's always time to change the one you choose