Today we assembled as a faculty to kick-off the 2008-2009 academic year. This is an exciting day, especially for those of us who work most of the year, as old faculty return with tales of adventures from the previous ten weeks and we welcome in the new members of the teaching community at school.
Like many schools, we begin the year highlighting the themes and topics that we will address for the upcoming year. Last year, the school created a new strategic plan which outlined the areas of exploration for us for the upcoming year.
There are three areas of focus for us in the upcoming year. They are Diversity, Environmental Sustainability, and Service Learning. This is in addition to the technology agenda, of trying to create a cadre of teachers who will seed a professional learning community to talk and communicate about best practices, as we determine our future direction and whether we implement a 1:1 program.
What was interesting while listening to the various presentations from each of the leaders spearheading the initiatives was that our challenge is going to be how we progress in each of these areas, since we will be competing for attention and energy above and beyond the normal day-to-day classroom experiences. Many of the groups, including my technology vision, are going to ask teachers to meet, discuss, and develop priorities and action plans to further the initiative. It may be dangerous and we may be working at opposition to each other, which may cause neither of the initiatives to gain traction and momentum.
What is interesting is that the solutions, engaging students to take ownership, gathering buy-in from a diverse constituent base, develop curriculum that is more problem-based in nature, could be complimentary and brought together under a single umbrella.
Rather than being four different initiatives, we should try to consolidate our efforts into a single plan for 21st Century Learning. This way, we can combine efforts. There is no reason that they Environmental Sustainability project create service learning projects which utilize technology tools to create spaces for collaboration, communication, and allow for different groups to connect both synchronously and asynchronously to provide a wider group of diverse individuals to challenge and expand our assumptions, making the wisdom of the group greater than that of one part.
Instead of competing, we should consolidate efforts, so that each project can utilize the strengths of the complimentary other priorities while maintaining its unique identity.
That is our school’s challenge for the year, how to create a community and culture that is complimentary and builds cooperatively rather than compete against each other for the two most precious commodities for teachers, energy and attention.