So, I’ve been thinking about change. Over this past school year, I’ve been part of our strategic planning committee and am now leading a task force to investigate our interdisciplinary program. And last week, I participated in the week-long Penn Summer Leadership Institute course organized by University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and ADVIS (Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools).
Our first session on Thursday was led by Cathy Hall. She spoke about the shifting ideas in technology in schools over the past 25 years or so. After some discussion, she asked the group to think about $5 million dollars and what it could be used for in the name of innovation at our schools. What would we do if we had that amount of money to spend over the course of 3 years, what would we spend the money on? What would we definitely keep? What would we change? I thought this was a really interesting idea to consider.
Here’s what I came up with (remember the assignment was to consider using this money is support of innovation) in 7 minutes.
- I would rewrite teacher contracts to include 2 weeks of professional learning each summer and a pay increase to cover this time.
- Then, I would have significant professional learning for everyone around project based learning and interdisciplinary work. Buck Institute and High Tech High would be up on my list of options there.
- Finally, I would give grants to grade level teams as they developed particular projects that required either professional development, resources, books, visits etc.
Then, as I was describing this to my husband, I realized that an interesting next step would be to consider how far you could go without $5 million. How important is that money to the process? Once you have your plan, is that more important than the money? Does the idea of the money get you thinking outside of the box, but turn out not to be critical in the implementation?
So, what if I did not have all that money? What could I still plan?
- Serious summer work: maybe this gets spread across several years with smaller groups attending each year. With paying for training and a smaller group make this financially very reasonable?
- And, could we go with more of a train the trainer model so that in the following years, we would be able to provide the relevant training in-house?
- Team projects could also be scaled down in terms of money. Yes, to all the online research and talking to others people can do. Maybe less travel that involves flying.
Either way, what a great catalyst for thinking. I may give it a try with the task force in the fall.