There Can Be No Innovation Without Empathy #IMMOOC

My favorite quote from Part I of The Innovator’s Mindset is highlighted below:


I was involved in a conversation with a group of educators recently about best practices and what school leaders and school districts can do to create greater equity in regards to access of technological resources. One of the points of view was that the school cannot do it all and at some point we have to put the responsibility on others (i.e. local businesses or parents) to find the solution. One person stated, “at what point does it end”? in talking about the lengths that schools and school leaders should go to for things like providing WiFi at home.

My feeling is that when we choose to work as public educators and take on the challenge of supporting ALL STUDENTS, then our responsibility never ends. If our kids are getting less than they need to grow as learners and human beings then our job is to find the resources that they need for them and their families.  For some students, school is the place where they find the greatest level of support from caring adults.   For most students, school is the place where they get more adult interaction than they get anywhere else for at least 180 days out of the year. This is not because adults at home are guilty of neglect, it is a simple math problem. Students spend roughly 6.5 to 7 hours of their days (Monday-Friday) at school and much fewer with their parents. They need to be able to rely on the adults within the walls of the school to build a supportive relationship that revolves around more than supporting subject-area knowledge.  If that means helping them access resources that will allow them to have the same opportunities as other students, then we need to take on that challenge.


What is the value of homework?

One topic that has been coming up during the community forums about the potential of a later start time for Burlington High School next year is homework. With this in mind, I thought I would share a clip from last week’s Innovator’s Mindset episode with Alice Keeler.  Alice is a well-known math teacher and presenter from California who has changed her practice in regards to assigning homework to students.

In the clip, Alice also mentions John Hattie’s research on homework.  Hattie is the Director of the Melbourne Educational Research Institute. His research has gotten a lot of attention since the publication of his Visible Learning meta-study.  I encourage you to watch Alice’s entire interview from last week and also to delve into the research that Hattie has done on the topic of homework.

Dealing with Destructive Discourse #IMMOOC (Week 1 Prompt)


There have been a number of situations over the years where I have been surprised by the way people have reacted to proposed changes.  To be clear, I am not surprised when people push back on changes with a clear opposing point of view (i.e. homework, later school start for teens, master schedule, 1:1 devices, etc.). When we have done things a certain way for a long time in education and most students have been successful, I can understand stakeholders questioning the need for change.

However, the one thing that still surprises me is when people lash out and make personal attacks and bring up issues that have nothing to do with the actual change itself.  I know this is the result of fear and what it does to people that are fearful of change. I would also like to say that I always handle these situations deftly, but that would be inaccurate.

So, I am writing this a reminder to myself and hoping it might help others avoid getting caught up in the negative undercurrents that are always part of the change process.  One way that I have found defuses some situations is to allow for a time where people can list all of their fears/concerns about a particular change.  Once the list of fear and concerns is finalized, ask people to go through and cross off all of the things that we do not have control over. My experience is that many of the things on the list get wiped off and you end up left with a list of manageable items that you can work on to help facilitate the change you seek.