19 March 2008

Spring: When a School's Thoughts Turn to Fall

As I write this, I can hear the first frog of spring croaking outside the window. He has apparently awakened from his long winter's nap and is looking for a little action. The songbirds have returned, the bulb plants are blooming. Renewal is the theme of the moment. Spring has sprung.

In the schools, there is a different sense of purpose. It is time to think about next year. No, the current year isn't over yet. (We're somewhere around 70% complete.) Budgets, hiring, and "I wish we would have..."'s from this year need to be contemplated before schools go into their summer estivation mode. It is as if we reach a point in the current year where it is too late to make any significant changes in course, so we just have to plan to do things better the next time around.

Working for two districts---and in two different roles and school types---has given me a different look at these processes. In one district, it's every teacher/program for itself. The goal is to be as cutthroat as possible in order to preserve yourself. It's not very pretty and while I don't think that anyone feels good about it, I haven't seen any leadership to make things change. The other district is more interested in instruction. There are budget issues there, too, but it is not the only thing that is talked about. The discussion begins with "What's good for kids?" and then goes from there. That makes a lot more sense to me.

I have always liked the "do over" aspect in education. I like knowing that there is another chance just a few months away...that someone else will take your kids and move them to the next level while you work your own magic with a new batch. We get to try, try again.

To celebrate spring, why don't you head over to this week's Carnival of Education at So You Want to Teach? You might also visit the Students 2.0 blog. Here is the description: We are students: the ones who come to school every day, raise our hands with safe questions, and keep our heads down. Except, now we have a voice—a strong voice—to share our ideas through a global network. What an awesome and powerful thing to have a group of students join the dialog, adding in their classroom perspectives. Go have a look!

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