I’m chuckling as I read this week’s blog title thinking anyone who comes across this entry will wonder, “What in the world does this mean?”. Well, here goes my best explanation. “Seasons of Life” represent the changes we all go as we progress through life events. As I mentioned last week, my daughter has completed a season of life as she leaves high school for college. I too, went through a season of life with my job change from UPK-12 administration to post-secondary teaching and administration. With Race to the Top, we are all undergoing a season of life (some might call it a “mid-life crisis”) as we move to a post-NCLB era which includes data-driven instruction, multiple measures of principal and teacher evaluation, Common Core Learning Standards, school turnaround models, and accountability protocols for all educators and administrators.
“Climate change” fits in as a topic near and dear to my heart, and with a background in Oceanography, I would be remiss in not pointing out the connection between increasingly common severe weather events and our changing atmospheric composition. A searing heat wave, or frontal passage that roars through states like a hurricane leaving millions without power are somewhat analogous to the reform efforts demanded by RttT. Just as with last month’s ferocious mid-Atlantic States weather, the rapidity and political leverage behind the Regents Reform Agenda and Race to the Top have caught many individuals by surprise, and nearly everyone is doing their best to get the job done right. Though the hardships of RttT pale in comparison to an extreme weather event, millions of people are being impacted, and each calls for flexibility and adaptation. In Darwinian terms, we might coin this response, “Survival of the fittest.” Surely that will be the case with so many schools as they grapple with the choppy waters of Annual Professional Performance Reviews, Interim Assessments, Student Learning Objectives, 6-12 Literacy in Content Areas…..
Lastly, “School Reform” is what all this work is about. We are changing the P-12 school system, and change is messy, difficult, frightening, and sometimes costly. School administrators, teachers, support staff, and boards of education are recognizing the difficulty in putting square pegs in round holes, particularly with growing fiscal constraints. The time demands alone on principals as they move to transformational instructional leaders warrant the present system obsolete. Teacher leadership, collaboration, professional learning communities, networking, technology, and shared ownership of results are critically important to getting this important work done. However, lasting school reform will occur only by engaging Institutes of Higher Ed in Race to the Top and School Reform. We have a golden opportunity to rewrite Teacher Education Programs, Education Leadership Programs, and Teacher and Principal Internships to best prepare principals, teachers, and other stakeholders for raising student achievement in a rigorous, relevant, and relationship-focused school environment. And that will be the focus on next week’s blog–Using Best Practices to Transform Ed Leadership Programs.