Yesterday, Sheryl and I began what we hope will be a successful process to change teaching in New Jersey on a statewide level. This fall, we’ll be running a Powerful Learning Practice cohort in the state in conjunction with Kean University that will include folks from every level of the education construct, from the assistant state commissioner of education to members of the principals and supervisors association to preservice university professors to classroom teachers. (We still have a couple of slots for 5-person school teams if anyone is interested, btw.) In addition, we’ve got Robin Ellis and Kevin Jarrett participating as well, ready to bring their wealth of knowledge and experience to the discussions.
Obviously, while this makeup is decidedly different from the other cohorts we’ve run, we’re hoping we have “the right people on the bus” as Jim Collins would say. While the various levels of representation add some complexity to the process, the opportunity to start a conversation and engage in practice with such a diverse group is pretty exciting. And, it’s especially exciting for me since it’s all happening in my home state.
If things work out as planned, we want to help create a workable model for professional development around these technologies that will take root and last here long after Sheryl and I move on. As I told the group yesterday, our expectation is not that everyone become a blogger or a podcaster or a videographer, but we really believe that every educator at least has to understand what’s happening with Web technologies, how they are affecting much of our world, and the implications and potentials for learning. Hopefully, what we create together will go a long way to making that happen.
Just one final note: as I was walking around listening in on some of the discussions, one of the representatives from the state was voicing her frustrations with the way the conversation with her colleagues has been going so far. She said that they were having a hard time squaring the idea of being more creative while maintaining “rigor” in the process, and that rigor is always contextualized in content. “I can teach my five-year old how to do content,” she said, and it was clear what she meant. We have as much to unlearn in this process as we do to learn.