Will we achieve meaningful school reform with independent efforts that are not designed as interdependent wholes?
Not long ago, I received an email from a group that I highly respect and admire. In the email, they advertised a number of courses for educators, such as:
- Web 2.0 Tools
- Common Core
- Project Based Learning
- iPads and Apps
- Teaching Online
- Blended Learning
- Flipped Classrooms
- STEM, STEAM, and STREAM
- (and some others)
To be clear, I am a “fan” of many, if not all, of these practices, standards, and approaches. And I am certainly not criticizing the educators who enroll in these courses to enhance their practices and work with student learners. I’m all for adult learning and improved instruction.
But where is the school-level approach to enhancement and improvement in these reform practices? Are schools architecting and blueprinting the systemic transformation of which these practices are parts of a whole? How will the “renovations” named above fit into a master plan that harmonizes the curriculum, instruction, assessment, and learning environments that function together as the ecosystem of a school’s teaching and learning core? Is it enough to have “independent contractors” at various schools enrolling in such courses and enhancing their individual practices? Would schools renovate their physical campuses in the same manner in which they are remodeling their pedagogical constructions?
What about the user experience of the student learners who are enrolled in the schools for which these adult learners work? What’s it like for them to live in their school houses when the rooms and the sub-systems of the home don’t seem to be undergoing remodeling that is planned, coordinated, and orchestrated as a connected whole – from a common set of well-crafted designs?