Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Focusing administrator attention on basic values and the importance of VISION

Chris Lehmann, principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, shared the presentation “Building School 2.0” at the July 28th administrators workshop in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

Reflecting after his presentation, Chris wrote:

I’ve been feeling this for a while, lately… that the conversation at the local level is moving in the right direction in a lot of places. The tools are [not] new anymore, and many places have pockets of innovation and now many folks are asking how to do it systemically. And more and more administrators are looking at school change beyond just the test scores. We’re not ignoring them, but I’m hearing principals and superintendents say things like, “Yes, we need to do well on the test, but we also need to do what’s right for kids.”

Take a few minutes and click through Chris’ slides. His message is absolutely on target, and we need MANY more administrators to not only hear but EMBRACE these core values and accompanying vision. Two times Chris repeats: “We teach kids, not subjects.” His references to the foci of initiatives like SLA, the Gates Foundation, the Coalition of Essential Schools, High Tech High, Disrupting Schools, and Christian Long’s “The Future of Learning Manifesto” are spot on. As I read these ideas, however, I’m struck by how many of our administrators and community leaders in Oklahoma are NOT on this page. Focused to an unbalanced degree on summative, high-stakes test scores, some leaders may have lost sight of the basic values Chris highlights in this presentation.

As Christian notes, “Playing Small Does Not Serve the World.” It’s not enough to simply provide students with a 20th century, traditional educational experience. They deserve more, and we’re obligated to provide more as moral educators and leaders in our communities. Thanks to Chris for continuing to share his journey and inspire us on our own journeys of learning and leading our local schools.

H/T to Jim Burke on Learning in Maine.

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