I watched the streaming video of the Sunday morning panel, fascinated to see reps from KIPP, Teach for America, and the Constructivist Consortium weigh in on what's happening with schools. Between listening, watching the "back channel" chat happening amongst other listeners, and peeking at Twitter, there was information overload to be had.
Comments from the panel included:
- Schools are places where kids go to watch adults work.
- Reform means schools fitting the form the kids need as opposed to the other way around.
- We are beating kids over their heads with rifles because we can't afford the bullets. (re: NCLB Funding)
- We should take all the worksheet teachers and put them in one school.
- As the richest country in the world we should provide every student with a computer and a cello.
But what do we do to make that happen? What are the action steps? Because talking about it is no longer enough.
I worry that the people who attend these events are not the ones who have the greatest power to enact change. That is not a diss on anyone who works for change within their classroom or circle of influence. I am also incredibly jealous of anyone who was able to attend this conference. It is simply an observation that until policymakers are watching these conversations at 6:30 on a Sunday morning along with me, there will be no scaling up.
In my position, I have far more "power" than I have ever had. I merely utter the name of the agency I work for and whoever is on the other end of the phone line will jump to find the person I need to talk to or others at a lunch table will stop conversations and listen. I don't necessarily like this, but I am learning to make my peace with it. I am beginning to see how I might use my voice for change. However, even at my level, I am running into significant roadblocks. The people who can truly make things happen are so far removed (both physically and mentally) from the realities of classroom life that they refuse to consider the damage their words and actions are doing. They are not at Educon (or similar events) to listen to educators.
And so, my friends, what do we do to change this? What is our first step beyond our circle of influence? What is the answer to this first of 20+ questions about taking action?