We Can’t Afford to Not Vote…

Image result for Quote george orwell intelligent menIn the day of school choice, vouchers, for-profit education systems, and charters, educators can no longer just show up to their jobs. We must be advocates. Not because we fear the loss of our jobs, but because the very students we serve in public education are in jeopardy of losing the opportunity to a free and appropriate education.

Many would argue with me and tell me I am wrong. I wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t researched, thought long and hard about this, and weighed the outcomes that would occur from me writing this. It may be your opinion that I am wrong, but I have seen with clarity, that as educators if we choose not to vote, advocate for our students who do not yet have the right to vote, and take the opportunity to have open dialogue to inform those around us, our very democracy is in jeopardy.

I will agree that public education in the 70s and 80s was slow in responding to meeting the needs of all students. Public school was free for the taking, how appropriate it was for the student was questionable. However, one can argue that the public schools of today are serving students and providing an educational opportunity that is beyond what many in public education could have imagined. The sad thing is that those outside our walls have no idea how amazing it is what students can be offered.

In Arkansas, we are breaking barriers with virtual blended courses so that rural and economically disadvantaged schools/students have access to highly qualified educators who capitalize on building relationships while delivering rigorous and relevant content. Students are also able to set themselves on a path to access more AP courses and Concurrent courses (College/HS credit) than ever before both in the traditional brick and mortar setting and through virtual blended courses. Additionally, students seeking a career and technology path (welding, agriculture, culinary arts, media arts, etc.) are able to begin that journey while still in high school.

At the same time that schools are offering these amazing opportunities at the high school level, elementary schools are implementing the most proactive evidenced-based practices to develop our youngest learners into highly literate learners.

I say all this to rally the educators in Arkansas, and beyond. Take note, do your Education isn't just another issue.research… really do your research. Who is sitting on legislative education task forces? Who is writing the legislation impacting public education? Are the interests of the students at the forefront? Is choice about equity and access for ALL students (remember the rural students who need access to opportunity, too)?

Most of all, get out there, talk to your representatives at the local, state and national level. Are the board members of your school board invested in what is best for all students? Does your legislator serve the needs of a few elite or is there a purpose to create opportunity for equitable access for all students? Do they see choice as something to be embedded within public schools or to funnel funding to for-profit programs or charter/private programs without accountability?

It’s time we get in the mix of things and be a voice for those that do not yet have the opportunity to vote. Consider what your community, state, nation, and the world would be like if education is only reserved for a few and denied to those who do not have the means to access. Use caution as politicians use choice and competition to legitimize privatization. If we remove equitable opportunity and access, students will not be empowered to change not only their future path but squelch the change-agents and policy-makers of our country’s future.

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The Whirlwind and The WIG…

Image result for quote about there always being storms in life overcoming them is the keyIt has been a whirlwind like no other for the start of 2018-19. I have experienced it and seen my teachers push through it.

One thing I began reading at the start of my new position, as Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Virtual Arkansas, was The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Covey, Huling, and McChesney. This was for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I know myself. I always bite off more than I can chew and end up accomplishing very little and feeling very defeated.

I had bought the book in February, heard how amazing it was for focusing your goals, and how powerful it could be for an organization. I just wasn’t ready, yet.

In the meantime, I discovered the beauty of audiobooks. Yes, I know, I am way late to this party! I read several other books via audiobooks. Then in late June, I felt the “nudge” to revisit “4DX.”

I downloaded the audiobook and partnered it with the actual book. I devoured it. It hit the very area that is my greatest weakness. I am the person who always sets too many goals. I am the person that has ten New Year’s Resolutions every year (and I usually keep/reach three of the resolutions).

I shared the ideas with my Director and started to find ways to implement some of the strategies of “4DX” with myself and Virtual Arkansas.

I will be honest. I came in late to the game on this one with the teachers. Most of them already had their personal growth goals related to the teacher evaluation system set before they had left in May, prior to my arrival. However, most have jumped on board. The Wildly Important Goal we have for our organization is flexible enough that their own personal growth goals still apply with minor tweaks.

I have had moments that I have had to have one on one sessions to explain the process. I even created a power point to better explain the structure of the WIG in relation to the organization, their PLCs and them personally. I think we are getting there.

The other piece is the cadence of accountability. It has become part of the structure of our PLCs and at the end of every PLC meeting, people meet with an accountability partner to make commitments or plan steps that work toward their personal growth goal(s) or WIGS (and they only have 1 personal growth goal and 1 PLC goal).

How are we doing? I am not sure I can measure it, yet. However, when I am in PLCs and talking to teachers they are mindful of their goal in a way I have not heard teachers talk about goals before.

I realize the implementation is far from perfect. I am eager for this to possibly become a book study/club reading for our organization at some point. I know it is making a difference in how I lead and the way I lead. I am hopeful that in the same way it is making a difference in me, it is making a difference in my teachers and as a result, our students are reaping the benefits!

How are you and your teachers embracing the whirlwind and moving forward with their WIGs?

Resolutions, Intentions, Goals… Always Progressing

2016 new goals

From the moment the ball dropped and we ushered in 2016 I have watched the goals, mantras, claims of personal “one word” and resolutions come across my various social media feeds. To say the least, I am amazed and sometimes a bit subdued. I admire the ambitiousness and timeliness of my virtual and face to face colleagues and friends commitments for 2016.

I almost talked myself out of even writing my own #goals. Then I read my assistant superintendent, Dr. Rob Thornell’s blog post about the topic (Make 2016 About Goal Accomplishment). It prompted me to reflect on my goals from last year, the things I had accomplished and the progress I plan to make this year. So then I felt compelled to at least write it down and share with a few of my close mentors and friends.

steve mariboli goals 2016

Then my virtual #blogamonth colleagues and PLN tagged me in a post. It urged us all to “jump start” our blogs. We had all had changes in our educational careers in 2015 and, at least for me, my blog(s) had taken a back seat. After some thought, and encouragement from this precious group of educators, I decided to go ahead and share my #goals for 2016.

blogamonth 2016

They are a little late, but here goes…

My #goals for 2016 are meant for all aspects of my life. In each of the following it is meant to impact my family and friends, my personal and professional life.

  1. Grow… mostly this is about my spiritual growth, but I am in an ever constant state of learning and growing. This requires me to journal more, read more and seek more opportunities to learn from others.
  2. Listen…I could explain, but this blog post “People Who Possess This One Skill Are More Likable In Social Settings” says it best.
  3. Celebrate… I have so many times in my life I could have celebrating small accomplishments, moments, blessings and I postponed or waited because it wasn’t “THE BIG THING” I was striving for… well no more!
  4. Invest… see #2 and pour myself and my resources into things that create meaningful results.
  5. Be Gracious… allow myself the opportunity to reset; give myself and others a break; laugh and cherish life in every moment.be kind and gracious
  6. Be Real… blog from the heart, bravely share mistakes/failures, share imperfections, own the “I don’t know,” and mostly ask for others to share this journey of life, learning and experiences with me.
  7. Be Healthy…keep running, be more consistent with weight resistance and core (pilates/yoga) training, make healthy food choices, and above all GET MORE SLEEP (4 hours a night is NOT sufficient)!
  8. Pursue with Passion… go ALL IN, don’t let a list dictate what’s going to be done (I am a habitual and obsessive list maker/follower), do whatever it is because it “drives” me.

consistency in 2016This list won’t happen all at once. Some of these things I have done, but I let go of them in my daily doing of life and are bringing them back to the forefront. It will be done a few things at a time, with thought, purpose and intention. Sometimes it may be awkward, it will be messy, but most of all it will bring me to a better place within and make me a better me.

Additionally I hope my efforts to make personal progress in turn enriches, inspires and encourages others. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see others succeed, and when I have had the opportunity to be part of that journey I thrill in the knowing I was a part of something great with someone else.

Adams quote for 2016 goals post

May we all inspire others through our own pursuit to be always progressing.