The Liberty Leadership Blog

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Personalize it! Tell Your Story -Teachers want the autonomy for self-directed professional growth

Through the use of social media, any person with internet access has the ability to tell his/her personal stories. The paradigm shift occurs when teachers provide a real-time and an on-demand view of their school’s learning ecosystem. The teachers provide the facilitation of learning and the students provide the application of learning. In essence, the teachers become the digital story tellers-in-chief of classroom experience. The locus of control resides with the teacher, instead of the state’s legislative authority.

Schools have the unique opportunity to use social media as their Personalized Social Learning (PSL) platform. The use of PSL platform is a game changer for schools seeking to amplify students’ learning. A robust PSL platform can assist teachers in telling their story pertaining the active implementation of the school’s vision and mission. The PSL should focus squarely on teachers curating the following:
1. Students’ Learning Tasks
2. Professional Growth
3. Two-Way Communication and Community Engagement

Your school’s PSL platform can encourage every teacher to engage and tell their story. Empowering teachers starts with a transparent culture of sharing best practices with colleagues and community members. Through this practice, PSL’s also ramps up the levels of students’ engagement with the academic content.
How does it work?
1. Create student learning tasks aligned with the state academic content standards
2.Teachers will curate real-time student learning tasks via Social Learning (digital pictures, video, audio or quote student discussions)
3. Communicate instantly with the local community.

The PSL practice we recommend is not another layered fad. This teacher-driven practice will efficiently streamlines those learning innovations which are currently occurring in isolation. The goal is to curate/capture student learning tasks through the use of a PSL platform and share students’ application of learning. Once learning is shared, the professional conversation and cross-fertilization of ideas can become a value-add among teachers. Therefore, schools can build internal capacity based on the shared best practices by the professional staff.
This one-step process helps:
1. Teacher/Principal Evaluation System (Pre-Post Conference)
2. Educators earn job-embedded continuing education graduated credit for re-licensure
3. Create a professional growth reflection tool
4. Provide evidence of authentic student learning tasks
5. Enhance community engagement
6. Demonstrate evidence of the application of the academic state content standards
7. Reduce the cost of professional development for both teachers and school districts
8. Build sustainability through shared best practices and amplifying teacher voice

#Detroit CCA high school Young Men of Excellence scholar students.


From @DeanJimRyan’s Twitter account today - Everyone, it seems, has a favorite #JFK quote. Mine is this: “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.”

Did President G.W. Bush(R), Representative John Boehner(R) and Senator Ted Kennedy’s(D) bi-partisan 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) help close the achievement gap? Nationally, schools were asked to set higher standards, create measurable action goals and individualize the student learning experience. Most importantly, the academic performance levels of student subgroups (African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Special Education, Social Economic Disadvantage) were made public by states and local schools.

Over the years there has been heated ideological debate between teachers, policy makers, researchers and parents. Reviewing the NAEP reading assessment trend data, one can formulate a data-driven response. But, was NCLB the right thing for the academic preparation of ALL students, most notably students of color?


The 10,000 hour rule.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, prescribes to the notion that success is not just about intellectual capacity. Success requires the individual to practice specific tasks for 10,000 hours in order to gain mastery. In education, we still have a vast majority of students and teachers attempting to prescribe 10,000 hours to the antiquated Education 1.0 model. Education 1.0 practice doesn’t make perfect; but, perfect Education 3.0 practice makes perfect. I comes down to the quality of the task, not just time on task. The key to accomplishing quality learning outcomes is dependent upon the rigor of the instructional tasks provided by the teacher.The typical 180 day school year, will provide students with 30 hours per week of formal instruction and 5,400 hours at the end of the school year. So, the 10,000 hour rule is easily attainable in two years of formal academic learning. Based on the current US academic performance data, we are still stuck in Education 1.0 and demonstrate limited signs of moving forward. Enhancing the learning conditions and practices takes transformational leadership and a commitment to retraining educators and learners; reboot the system.

The boldest technology advancement made by man was accomplished through the challenge proposed by President John F. Kennedy; the idea of traveling to the moon and engaging in space exploration. The Apollo 13 mission demonstrated our human level of grit and adaptability with technology, when we are faced with a bold challenge. The education profession is in the middle of its “Apollo 13” challenge.

Teachers and students are being challenged to engage with new technology that has never existed before, in order to maximize productivity for college and career-readiness. We are asking a vast majority of teachers and students, without formal educational technology training, to advance learning through the use of advance technology. Such educational technology has never been used by teachers or students.

We have a failure to launch because both teachers and learners were groomed in a learning environment that rewards “tell me what to do” compliance and status quo. Our “Education Apollo 13” moment will need innovators, cage-busters and disruptive leadership; people who are willing to strategically think-different, in order to propel learning. Does the education profession have enough innovative juice to bend the arch of history?

An ad hoc educational technology scheme will perpetuate teachers’ initiative fatigue, risk aversion and enhance frustration with “the flavor of the month” education reforms. Similar to meeting the Apollo 13 challenge of over four decades ago, I believe the education profession can meet our educational technology “Apollo 13” challenge. The successful launching of educational transformation has to be highly strategic, goal oriented and provide continuous training. The key is to purposefully empower teachers through the implementation of a distributed leadership model. This will bolster transformational capacity and develop the next generation of educational technology leaders, focused on 21st Century instruction and learning.

Closing the Achievement Gap: The Pursuit of Perfection

Our current academic achievement levels are just the tip of the iceberg. Educators are in a constant chase of perfection, as we seek to maximize students’ learning. The massive barrier to perfection is the evasive Achievement Gap, which continues to persist across generations. The most academically underperforming students are categorized as subgroups (African-American, Latino, Special Education and students in poverty). There is not one clear solution to deep-dive the iceberg, the solution will require a clear focus on establishing learning conditions and robust practices. The Achievement Gap can only narrow once schools make an effort to address the culture and climate conditions for learning, coupled with consistent student engagement practices. A two-pronged approach, such as this, can yield higher than average results for ALL students. Below are clear action steps of the two-pronged approach.

Let’s Go BIG!: Closing the Achievement Gap comes down to three essential culture and climate conditions:
1. B- Belonging- It can not be stated enough, school and classroom learning conditions have to be caring and inviting. The learners have to feel connected to the school and their teachers. Most schools that excel at this have a “family type” of relationship with the students and parents. Some schools believe that personalized relationships with students and families are “the make or break” aspects of their school culture.
This feeling of belonging is important because it leads students to personalize and engage with the academic content. When students feel like they belong in the organization, the levels of efficacy and learning expectations increase tremendously.
2. I-Intensity- students believe that learning is more meaningful and engaging when classrooms stay busy in a meaningful way. In these classrooms, the teachers set the “minute to minute learning pace.” Time on task becomes a respected asset by the students. In these high intense learning environments, there is zero down-time and the learners often say “it’s so fun and time flies in that class.” Industriousness becomes the transformational norm for learning.
3. G-Grit- failure at a task is part of the learning process. Teachers often provide various explanations of content when learners are confused or lack mastery of the content. Reteaching in order to clarify students’ confusing is a key aspect of resiliency and industriousness. Not giving up on complicated tasks and finding different ways to solve problems are essential skills in fortifying personal Grit.

Once the culture and climate conditions are established, consistent student practices must occur. The Common Core State Standards are encouraging teachers what content to teach, but lack clarity on specific performance based assessment skills learners should master. Teachers often refer to this as the “how” in the learning process. The “how” becomes the learning tasks students are asked to demonstrate in action. Students must create real world solutions for current or unknown problems. These learner practices are manifested in the following 6 research-based learning strategies:

The 6-Pack: Performance Based Assessment Skills

1. Interview and Research

2. Persuasive and Creative Writing

3. Point of View Debate

4. Digital Graphic Organizers

5. Multi-Media Presentations

6. Oral Communication and Speech


Our digital lives are not separate from our real life. For most of us, digital is a way of life. It’s how we wake up and it’s how we go to bed. No, it doesn’t mean we’re addicted. It just means it’s embedded into our DNA. However, we can still have control. It is our value system and life goals that must serve as a foundation to how we spend our time. Life is short. We shouldn’t let it be monopolized by social networks, vanity metrics, and wasted efforts and time that are not providing value.

(via Pam Moore, Your Digital Lifestyle – Is it Time to Redefine Value? - Business 2 Community)

This is why I think Steve Jobs got it right. I will reblog!


How To Use Crowdsourcing in the Classroom

Crowdsourcing is an important information literacy skill. This is important for students because the idea of crowdsourcing will allow them to utilize personal learning networks to gain a diversity of opinions, find outside experts and use the wisdom of a network or crowd to find more thorough answers and ask better questions.

Students can develop these important skills by being allowed to crowdsource their learning. When they need something more than our classrooms can provide, they need to know how to find it. They need to be allowed to work together and to use the internet to form very important personal learning networks.