Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bright Spot: 100% Participation at 0 Cost.

'There's no use trying,' said Alice; 'one can't believe impossible things.'
'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen.
'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day.
Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
                                                                                                     Lewis Carroll

I have been arguing for some time, that unless we relentlessly think together in our schools, sharing ideas, collaborating, improvising, opening our classrooms, asking the same questions, working on cross-fertilization across the schools and up and down the system, the best we can do is have pockets of unsustainable excellence. And no matter how good we are in pockets, the child will not be served.  Because none of us has all the answers.  No matter how brilliant we are.  The diversity we serve demands diverse answers.  The only chance is for us to work together system-wide - not doing the same thing, but asking the same questions. 100% of the people on eacb staff. 100% of the people at the district level. 100% of the teachers. 100% of the principals.100% of the support staff.

And we have to do it at 0 cost.  There is no money.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  As George Washington said, “We are out of money.  Now it is time to think.”

Last year I posed this question to our Project Success teams (each of them receives a small grant to work collaboratively on an inquiry):  How can we use the time we have this year to grow time for 100% participation in teaching and learning together at 0 cost? After the meeting, one of the attendees chastised me.  There is no such thing as 100% participation, he said.  It’s discouraging to speak in those terms.

He might be right.  I have lately tried to focus more on reminding people of the small steps that we can take in the direction of our big ideas.  But Kathleen left that meeting a year ago and set to work to set up a professional learning community in her school.  This week she set me this note:  “Our PLC is running smoothly now!! We have divided the teaching staff into 3 teams. Each week, one team of 5 to 6 people is responsible for supervising the students as they read with older student buddies and reading tutors in their classrooms. The other two teams are free to meet as a large group, or as small collaborative teams (as they feel the need) for a period of 30 minutes during the school day. We alternate PLC meeting days to accommodate all of the part time teachers, and in this way, we have 100% participation in our PLC activities at zero cost!”

Perhaps we just need more practice believing impossible things!  After all impossible things happen every day.

via @tkonynenbelt

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