Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Super School

During ISTE I was out at one of the various evening events and I struck up a conversation with Principal Dave Meister. While talking we were discussing some of the good things going on in the world of education and specifically all of the great teachers. Many of those teachers were in attendance at ISTE this past week. We wondered aloud that it would be nice if we could get all these amazing educators and get them together in one school. It would be like a super school. I even said that a co-worker and I had often joked that if we ever fell into a large pile of money we would start up our own school founded in the very principles we believe about teaching and learning. We would hire the best and brightest educators and create the super school. Image if all these educators could be consolidated in one school. How amazing of a place would that be to work? How amazing would that place be to attend as a student?

As I reflected on this concept of consolidating educational “talent” in one place, I wonder if that might actually be a bad idea. In sports, fans love a good game. We love seeing overtime playoff hockey and extra inning baseball. We don’t like to see blowouts on a regular basis nor do we like seeing teams dominate a sport year in and year out. As soon as a streak is started or a dynasty created, we want to see it end and restore balance. While I am a Cubs fan, I would hate to see the Cubs win every game by ten runs and win the World Series every year. Well…I would like them to win at least one of those… The point is, talent is spread around professional sports to balance the game and provide us the entertainment that they are designed to provide. By spreading out the “good” players you bring other players up on teams and spread the wealth. Those elite athletes can help bring up the level of play of teammates and provide leadership that can help a team succeed.

When it comes to schools it is not that different. If all the good teachers leave to go to the super school then what happens to those left behind? Who is left to support and lead those struggling and new educators? How can they learn to be better teachers if there are no models? What happens to kids in those schools? Rather than create the super school, why not turn our own schools into super schools? There are some amazing teachers and administrators that I had the true pleasure of meeting at ISTE this past week. While I would love to work with any one of them, I like the idea of knowing they are out doing good work in other places. The key for me is that these people may not physically work in my building and yet their presence is felt in my work on a daily basis. Through our connections we are able to work together and are already creating a super school that transcends social, political and physical barriers.

Make your own school the super school. Start with making your own classroom better and bring others on board with you. If you don’t know how, ask. There are plenty of brilliant people willing to help. The super school exists and anyone that connects and is trying to make things better for their own students is a part of it.
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