Monday, March 31, 2014

The curse of the 3 S's.

Our last PD time was scheduled as a mini EdCamp. It was great! I facilitated a session talking about what the ideal school would look like. Around 20 staff members attended who ranged from Para Educators to Administrators. I threw out the question, "What does the ideal school look like?"

The onslaught of ideas and opinions that followed were incredible. But, as quickly as no box ideas were thrown out, reasons why they wouldn't work countered. The main reasons ideas wouldn't work centered on three things:
  • Schedule
  • Staffing
  • Sports

Schedule: If you want to know what is important to your school, look at your schedule. That is what's important to your school. Take a minute, right now, to look at your school activity schedule. What is the average number of events you have on any given day? How many times have you wanted to plan something that would be great, but you can't find time in your schedule? Last question: What would happen if you scheduled in order of impact on student learning? What if the thing that helped students' learning the most had priority over events that didn't (Sorry, two more questions). 

Staffing: "Yeah, that would be great, but who's going to watch the kids?" I've heard this sentence when thinking about keeping the school open longer, Saturday catch up days, summer school/learning days, opening school earlier, lots of things. What if we focused our resources on things that made the most difference to the student? Do we need to buy these worksheets when we could use the money to staff an after school study table? As with the schedule, we need to prioritize what we do by how effective it is to student learning.

Sports: I want to start off by saying I coach cross country at the middle school where I work. My wife is the cheer coach. We spend a considerable amount of time at sporting events. I am not anti-sports. However, (here come the questions) how many times has an idea been shot down because of the sports schedule? What are the core values and mission for public school sports? How do school sports improve the quality of a student in comparison to a student who doesn't participate? For all of the resources, time, and attention we invest in school sports, what is the return on investment?

Again, a lot of questions, but this is the next step from my previous "yes, but" post. When looking to innovate, we need to get the biggest bang for our buck. Just ideas.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged,

Dane Barner 

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