The Next Big Thing

Since tapping into the power of the Internet as a paradigm shifter in K-12 education in 1993, I have been looking forward to seeing when and how AI will further disrupt the model and catalyze the next shift.

Just as the Internet made many of us re-think the assumptions of time and place in our definition of school, ChatGPT should have us re-examining our beliefs about meaning of learning and pedagogy.

ChatGPTmay be it.

Learning is more than just the acquisition of knowledge and facts. It is all about how you can apply what you know.

After my district created our model of the Student Centered School in 1993 (the subject of many previous posts) and became a founding member of the Virtual High School Global Consortium in 1995, we began to follow the work of kindred leaders and organizations on the bleeding edge of innovation. Among them were Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn of the Clayton Christensen Institute.

From their work in Disruptive Innovation, we learned that “the new product or service is initially not as good as the traditional product or service. Disruptive innovators take root in simple, undemanding applications in what is a new level of competition – where the very definition of what constitutes quality, and therefore what improvement means, is different from what quality and improvement traditionally meant.” “Disrupting Class,” Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, Curtis Johnson McGraw Hill, 2011, 2008 pages 47-48

Consequently, traditional school districts will be slow to adapt and adopt a changing definition of quality and improvement, just as many have failed to embrace the power of the Internet. For some districts, the pandemic years did not result in “COVID loss.” For too many, remote learning meant doing the same things they had been doing, only with teachers on a screen rather than in front of a class. No changes in pedagogy, no consideration of the 3 C’s of Connection, Collaboration, Create. And learning suffered.

Good is the enemy of great.

We also followed the work of Willard Daggett and the International Center for Leadership in Education. Key to us was their Rigor and Relevance Framework. It guided our work in curriculum development, instructional strategies, differentiation, and authentic assessment.

The ability to apply what was learned to real-world, unpredictable situations was our goal, and based on evaluation by staff from the Center, our students achieved it.

Yes, today ChatGPT is imperfect and flawed. We are not totally aware of all the implications that it brings. But it, and programs like it will get better.

We owe our commitment to incorporating the power of AI into our schools to the current and next generations of learners, today! We, and they cannot again wait until it is “perfect.” Let’s not repeat the mistakes many have made by waiting for a “pandemic” before moving to the next paradigm.

We can do better, and we must!

And so it goes…

The Future Has Arrived, It Has Not Been Evenly Distributed This was posted by Ian Jukes, a remarkable man I met and worked with starting back in the mid-1990’s. Our conversations, his work, and the books written and published by he and his group were guiding lights during my career from that point on. If I were as young, smart, and good looking now as I was then when we were working on moving education into the possibilities that came with emerging technologies, I would be serious looking at the implications of AI and how it will transform what we do, and how we do it. Whether we like it or not. Back in the day, committed to it so my kidds would have greater opportunities than I did. Would do it now so my grandkidds could have better opportunities than their parents did. But my day is passed, hopefully someone will take the baton, and find their “Ian Jukes”to help guide them on their journey. Proud to have been a Committed Sardine!

The New Normal in Education

As a veteran educator, still in the classroom after 40+ years, I completely understand the importance of working with the parents of my students in order to provide their children with the best education possible. Parents have always been willing to share tips and possible strategies that will help me work more effectively with their children. After all, we share the same goal, we want their children to graduate with the skills to become accomplished citizens.

In the spirit of a number of new laws being passed, or considered in several states, I am contemplating sending the following letter to my current group of parents. Since parents and state legislators are now being seen as curriculum and classroom specialists, based only on the experience of having attended school and spent some time in classrooms, I think it is only fair for me to ask the relevant questions. I can bring to our discussion not only my experiences in the classroom, and my knowledge that all of my decisions impact every child in the room, not just one, but my experiences in raising two successful children as well.

If, like parents or state legislators, I find any of the answers unacceptable to me, I can take advantage of a phone tip line to report my concerns. So if any of my parents are contacted by a child welfare or law enforcement agency, I am sure they will understand that I am merely doing my civic duty and fulfilling my obligation as a mandatory reporter.

What follows is modified from a shared social media post, so I cannot credit the original author. I apologize for my failure of academic due diligence.

Dear Parent,

As your child’s teacher, I have reason to be concerned about the appropriateness of what your child is learning outside of school. Because children spend only 33 hours out of 168 each week in school, your child’s life at home and outside of school has much more influence on the person that your child will grow up to be than anything that happens in school.

So that we teachers can be more responsive to your child’s needs, please provide us with the following information per week:

• A detailed list of television shows that your child watches.

• A complete list of the video games that your child plays.

• A complete list of the social media your child uses, including links to all of their TikTok videos and Instagram posts, and a list of their friends on SnapChat.

• A list of slang terms (including swear words racial epithets) that are used at least once daily in your household.

• A thorough description of how the relationships among the adults in your child’s life are displayed in front of your child.

• Tallies of the number of times an adult in your household has said something uplifting and motivational to your child (e.g., “I’m so proud of you!”) and the number of times an adult in your household has said something judgmental or demotivational (e.g., “You’re a disappointment to the family!”)

• Pictures of the quiet space set aside for your child to do school work.

• A complete list of the books you will read to your child or list your child will read.

• A detailed list of activities you plan to do daily for the remainder of the year.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to showing that you love your child by providing us with the information that we need in order to adequately provide for your child’s education. This information is vitally important, so we will be sure to follow up with a telephone call or set up a meeting with you at the school if we don’t receive it.

This may seem like a lot at first, but I’m sure it will become a routine after only a few weeks, and we really need this transparency to ensure that your child receives the education that they are entitled to.

Best wishes,

And so it goes…