Don’t drive the barge, steer your sailboat!

todayThe large barge of the educational system is viewed as flawed by many. There are theoretical discussions that take place lamenting grades, schedules, and pedagogy. Terminology, vocabulary, & semantic sludge, left and right. These conversations take place in the halls, in the lounge, and on the interwebs. You can’t help but be aware of the growing dissension amongst the masses.

There has to shift amongst the silo’s in education. While yes, many of these facets are true, and may indeed be long overdue for a vast overhaul…conversations that leave educators frustrated, overwhelmed, or confused, help no one.

Giving students number grades each grading cycle is bad? Ok. My district requires grades, what do I do?

School start times need to be later in the day? We have 57,000 students, multiply that by families, and tell me how to make that happen?

Parents need to be more involved? I agree…but I can’t FORCE them…and I kinda feel like I’m making an effort already!

No more whole group, lecture driven, lessons? But what if that’s all a teacher is comfortable doing? It’s not like all of our teachers are in classrooms trying to be below average.

How can I, as an administrator, solve systemic educational reform?

The answer is that I can’t. I can’t make global decisions. I can’t turn the barge of the educational ship around.

But you know what I can do? I can turn my own boat. My sailboat of a world is much easier to steer and navigate. Make the changes/shifts where you can. Have conversations within your building, within your team, or with yourself about what YOU can do to make a difference.

I may not be able to make school start later, but I can implement a brief “meeting time” across the campus that allows students and teachers flexibility each morning. I can’t take away grades, but I can encourage more summative conversations with parents. I can help teachers through modeling and provide examples to help them see the benefit of a more holistic approach to grading. We can make parent involvement a campus focus, and involve our community to commit to more parent involvement/engagement. I can provide staff development through strong instructional leaders within our campus or even district to provide small group instruction learning opportunities to help change what we’re seeing each day.

I can’t fix the world, but I can make a difference in mine.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” Maya Angelou


creatively solving,



One Comment

  1. Walt said:

    This post is right on! We may not be able to fix everything, but we can make our own school or classroom better. Little improvements CAN and do make a big difference.
    I will be sharing this concept with teachers in my building.

    April 5, 2014

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