One word I usually don't use to describe school systems is "agile." Change and action in districts happen at a glacial pace. This can be incredibly frustrating for school leaders (and everyone). Recently, I was listening to an episode of Seth Godin's podcast, "Akimbo," where he discussed the benefits of Critical Path Management. Simply defined, Critical Path Management (CPM) is used to complete projects on time by focusing on key tasks. In his podcast, Godin focused on an important part of CPM that involves "getting out of the way" of personnel completing key tasks.
First and foremost, I would love to see public school entities actually adopt a philosophy of project management. I am personally a fan of CPM because of the intense focus on execution and action. But more importantly, school systems could learn from the "get out of the way" mentality, especially when further steps in the project management chain are on hold waiting for a prior step to be completed. How many times have you been stalled because other departments or parts of your organization hadn't yet completed their portion of a complex project?
In closing, I'd like to adjust the old saying, "Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way." For our purposes, let's go with, "Lead, Follow, AND Get Out of the Way!"
In light of the recent articles highlighting research showing the failure of the standardized testing push in the United States, this look at a recent employer survey shines further light on the disconnect between the "real world" and "what's easy to measure."
As educators, it is our responsibility to prepare students for what comes after the traditional school years. So it would stand to reason that our curriculum would center around current research around the skills needed to be successful in today's economy. And that means we should be collaborating with large companies and employer sects to see what skills they are looking for. We should be researching the shifts and trends in the economy to steer kids in the directions of careers that have potential for robust growth.
But wait. We are not doing any of that. Nope. Instead, we still cling a 100+ year old philosophy that has seen very little upgrading. We all know the reasons why. "Big testing" dictates much of what happens and their products can only measure very basic (and mostly unimportant) things.
So "No Child Left Behind" didn't produce scores of students super prepared for the workforce and we didn't conquer the world in international test scores. This should further empower school leaders at the local level to do what's right for kids. Trust the real research and trust your gut. And guess what? States and Commonwealths are beginning to respond. Take a look at this link:
The choice is ours. Start small. Take a look at the "skills employers want" in the picture attached to the main article. Bring this list into your next set of classroom walkthroughs. Ask yourself, your teachers, and your students, "Does this lesson check off any of these boxes?" If it doesn't, well, let's make some changes.
"THe Boss" Jon Ross and "The Dr of Proctors," Nick Indeglio
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