Once again, Will Richardson has an article that I think my future principal should read, Getting Bold with Parents:
One of Lisa’s [the superintendent] mantras is that schools have little choice when it comes to thinking differently about education. And she also believes that parents are the key to making that different thinking happen.
“Parents are the piece where we’re not doing enough legwork,” she says. “Marginalizing parents, not letting them be an important voice in the larger conversation is a huge mistake.”One of the problems I see in schools is that we’re just so darn busy. While we can argue about whether much of what we are doing is necessary or not, the reality is that – at the moment at least – we are doing them, and it doesn’t leave much time for these bigger conversations. (As a side note, I think that was one of the keys to the success of my own staff development efforts I led a few years ago, it gave the teachers involved time to actually have those “big picture” conversations.) But I think if we are actually going to move our schools forward, if we are truly going to meet the needs of our students, then the only way we are going to get there is to have these big conversations, and parents need to be part of that.
In Superintendent Brady’s case, that involved asking parents to read and then discuss Tony Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap.
“When you ask parents what they want their kids to be able to do, none of them ever says ‘pass the test’,” Lisa says. “They start with the types of skills that Wagner talks about, problem solving, agility, initiative. What parent is going to say ‘no’ to that? And that’s the frame that we have to keep coming back to when parents start talking about test scores. We have to keep asking them ‘is that really what’s important to you?’”So I’d like to suggest to my future principal that we figure out a way to engage our community in a meaningful way in an extended conversation around what we want for our students. Perhaps it could be a book study – Wagner’s book is not a bad place to start, but there are many others – or perhaps it can be a series of articles (perhaps even including Rigor Redefined from Wagner) that would allow us as a community to really take charge of what we want – and are doing - for our students, instead of simply reacting to policies and expectations imposed from afar.
As Will says,
We can’t wait for policy or politics to change. We have to be the impetus for change.Or, as Seth Godin says,
Please stop waiting for a map. We reward those who draw maps, not those who follow them.Warriors take care of one another. Isn’t it about time that our community collaboratively draws the map for our students, instead of following someone else's map?