Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

October 20, 2010

How can Educators regain the initiative in the talks on Education Reform

#Edchat 10-12-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST


This was a lively edchat and an equally lively summary has been written for us by  Tony Baldasaro (@baldy7). Tony is  regular edchatter and has an impressive bio (see this at the end of the post). He is a great advocate for tech and practises exactly what he preaches in his personal and professional life! Thank you Tony for a great summary.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about education reform.  Fueled by the debut of Waiting for Superman, the $100,000,000 donation by Mark Zuckerberg to Newark Public Schools on the Oprah Winfrey Show, NBC’s much ballyhooed Education Nation, and most recently the Superintendents’ Manifesto along with the rebuttals like the ones offered here and here.  With the exception of Brian Crosby, who wrote this piece in rebuttal to Education Nation in the Huffington Post, what has been missed is the authentic voice of the classroom teacher.  As Brian noted, “Teachers and other actual educators were almost completely absent from nearly every “In-depth” discussion — as were parents and students.”  Thus, on Tuesday October 12th at noon, a group of educators from all around the world met virtually in Twitter.  Using the hashtag #edchat, teachers, administrators, parents, and perhaps even a policy maker or two, all of whom share a passion for education reform and thirst for continual learning, shared their perspectives on how teacher can regain the initiative in the talks about education reform.  

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • Practicing educators need to provide more voice to the bigger conversations about education reform.
  • Educator fight the perspective that all adults attended school, thus they “know” how school should be.  However, educators have done little to be proactive in re-educating their respective communities.
  • While teacher unions themselves were not directly criticized, there was consensus that any teacher-led movement should be independent of any professional organization – it should be more grassroots in nature.
  • There was a lot of discussion about the role of media in any grassroots effort, although is often discussed that web2.0 tools could allow teachers voices to be heard without an organized media group involved.
  • Concerns rose of the history to educators to not maintain a consistent voice, while other suggested that a diversity of voices was need to provided multiple dimensions to the issues.
  • Great educators and schools are there to be modeled from.
  • Communities need to be accountable, not only teachers.
  • As per usual, there was much discussion about the role to test scores in the reform process.
  • There is a political process to reform, but true reformers have the courage to step beyond the politics and lead based on principles.
  • Educators need to involve community members and make sure they understand they are stakeholders to the process.

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

 With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

CoachB0066:  Focus on the students, their needs and the world they will enter. And be comfortable w being uncomfortable! Well worth the risk #edchat

 Fliegs:  @Pen63 Unified would be nice, but whatever they say, teachers need to be a driving voice nationally and locally. #edchat

 Ms_Shhh_mala:  I believe public profiles of teaching professionalism, thoughtful commentary on EdReform from T’s are key #edchat

 ShellTerrell:  It seems that more & more public relations is a part of the job description of being an educator #Edchat

 baldy7:  #edchat accountability must be embraced by admin, school boards, and communities too

Pen63:  RT @slaggyc: Its going to take alot of strength. This a battle weve not had to fight before. TRUE – thus the difficulty #edchat

baldy7:  #edchat the problem with inviting community in our classrooms is that they don’t look any different than they did when they were in school.

 ShellTerrell:   #Edchat @rgriffithjr I think solutions most likely coming fr grassroots movmts w teachers taking lead as transformers of the current system

 tomwhitby:  The more we educate people about education the less the sound bites and polls from non educators wil have an impact. #Edchat

baldy7:  #edchat What if we stopped educating the community and started educating WITH the community? Would that challenge our system too much?

 Tina_Barr:  RT @GaryBrannigan: RT @tkraz: Policy makers know what parents want to hear, teachers know what they need to hear. #edchat

 ShellTerrell:  RT @baldy7: #edchat if we can’t get educators to use connective technologies, how do we get them to be transparent

 Nunavut_Teacher:   RT @Pen63: @drdouggreen I only want to be lumped in with those that have the sam e ideas as me, not just the same union dues as me.

 @jgmac1106:   #edchat You don’t take a temperature with a stethascope (sp?) can’t measure learning with standardized test

 Fliegs:   @ShellTerrell Teachers should be using all kinds of media. There are so many of us from several generations and every part of US #Edchat

Teachingwthsoul:  Very cool idea! Imagine the power…RT @baldy7: #edchat we need a million teachers telling a million stories

Lemino:  RT @malcolmbellamy: I think that we need to consider that the media is changing… social media can play a key part in delivering a message #edchat

tomwhitby:  Everyone who has gone to school has an opinion on EDU Reform.We need to examine the foundation of those opinions and dispel the Myths.#Edchat

 JasonFlom:   RT @davidwees: So who’s willing to tell their story? What if each of us contributed a 1 minute positive story of education to our library? #edchat

 Carter_Learning:   embracing technology will enable organic reform; educators often resist it #edchat

 Tomwhitby:  I’m asking for blog posts of positive Edu Reform to be published on Oct 17 with Links on a wallwisher wall. http://bit.ly/a3fH2c #Edchat

To follow the complete discussion see here 

 For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

ShellTerrell: #edchat @johart “Anyone who has been a student feels that they are more qualified to speak on (cont) http://tl.gd/6erv7l

malcolmbellamy:  we need to have more media attention on gr8 practitioners like Brian Crosby see http://malbell.wordpress.com/?s=brian+crosby  #edchat

smartinez:  Interview with @smartinez (me!) tonight on LearnCentral w/ @stevehargadon 8PM/5PM EDT/PDT http://bit.ly/draI5t  #edchat #edtech

for #edchat discussion – share your successes with policymakers at local, state and federal levels. http://bit.ly/M0bLT  ETAN  for ed tech

carolynstarkey:  Education Week: Number of Ed. Civil Rights Complaints on the Rise http://t.co/phmUf2K  via @educationweek #edchat #highered

SloanConsortium: Habitats for Academic Freedom – http://bit.ly/d2w0ec #highered #edchat

davidwees:  We could create our own documentary on the positive change education can make. http://is.gd/fYRcc

edReformer: The Incentivized Principal http://bit.ly/9Beiw 

jonbergmann:  More info on how we are changing ed http://bit.ly/akGOEW  http://bit.ly/bAX4dN http://bit.ly/bE6TCC  http://bit.ly/99NdZh

heoj:  btw here’s a lesson plan in which students make documentaries about their own schools http://nyti.ms/dnC7gR

Tina_Barr: @teachingwthsoul Oprah and Facebook CEO have been advocates. http://bit.ly/dt3lDT

davidwees:  @EMGonline High school dropouts are much more expensive. http://is.gd/fYRXW

veletsianos:  #edchat re: teacher videos: would LOVE to include your video stories in a project we are doing launching this weekend: http://bit.ly/cMJbbm

tomwhitby: I’m asking 4 blog posts of positive Edu Reform 2 be published on Oct 17 w/ Links on a wallwisher http://bit.ly/a3fH2c

AdobeEdu:  @Adobe booth presentation schedule for #EDUCAUSE10 can be found here http://bit.ly/dgV3Yl #edchat #edtech #adobe

ShellTerrell:  Stay tuned! We will be posting soon how to involve yourself in Youtube proj here http://bit.ly/cM28Mm  #edchat We need ur help!

lemino:  Here’s a video on #edreform created using google docs http://youtu.be/dGCJ46vyR9o

tomwhitby:  Pls take the time. This video is one step in Edu Reform. Dean Shareski>”Sharing: The Moral Imperative” http://bit.ly/ba6YRN

ToddAHoffman:  More schools are using video games to get students moving #edtech #edchat http://sbne.ws/r/5QS7

ShellTerrell: Wow! RT @NZWaikato: Students available to Tutor other students via Skype in Maori Language/Culture http://bit.ly/czrDCW

ShellTerrell: Fantastic ! #Edchat RT @veletsianos: we have a similar project looking @ teacher roles & memorable teachers: beta site http://bit.ly/9XQ36x

christal_t:  Bill Gates is funding novel Ed Tech ideas & online courses via @berniedodge http://tinyurl.com/36a6ckg #edtech #edchat #elearning #mlearning

veletsianos:  Teacher Ed reform recommendations from UT: http://bit.ly/alb9Cu  #edchat #edtech #edreform

ShellTerrell: Goes nicely with the today’s topic! A Culture of Blame? http://bit.ly/deBfQx  via @JoHart #edchat #edreform

Hello, my name is Tony Baldasaro. I am the Chief Human Resource Officer and Personalized Pathways Administrator at The Virtual Learning Academy Charter School. In addition to supervising the school’s rapidly growing faculty (The school opened with 40 teachers in January 2008. We now have approximately 125), I partner with local school to help students meet competencies (NH is moving away from the traditional Carnegie Unit) and develop Experiential Learning Opportunities which allow students to earn high school credit through a blend of experiential and online learning. VLACS has very quickly become a disrupting force in New Hampshire public education as our enrollment has exploded from 450 in January of ’08 to an estimated 9,000 at this time. This has not only triggered many debates at the state level relative to funding, but also pushed conversations in the education community toward a more flexible approach to educating New Hampshire students. It is an incredible feeling knowing that you are part of a team of educators changing the way students are educated. Intoxicating really.

In addition, I have worked hard to expand my professional learning network.  I tweet regularly, bookmark on delicious and diigo, contribute to my photostream in Flickr, write in my blog, and continue to develop a presence on Linked In. Finally, like many other people, I have developed a particular addiction to Facebook- although I don’t understand why people who would give me the time of day twenty years ago in high school suddenly think we are now friends!

In my personal life, I spend a lot of time with my wife (Kelli) and three kids (Ben, Beth and Emma). We live in Stratham, NH which is ten minutes from the New Hampshire seacoast, and an hour from the lakes and mountains to the north or Boston to to the south. If I am not at work, I am usually at a hockey rink, a horse barn, a soccer field, a football field, a basketball court, a baseball/softball diamond, or cross country meet cheering on my kids in some sort of sporting event. Like many kids, my kids like to be active and be with friends and Kelli and I feel really lucky to have three healthy children who enjoy doing the things that kids enjoy doing. When we have time, we enjoy going to Lake Winnipesaukee and the beach (I much prefer the lake over the beach), going geocaching, cheering on the Red Sox and Patriots both on TV and in person, and taking short, family-friendly hikes. We also really like going to Boston for an afternoon or weekend to try to absorb some of the energy that at big city exudes.

So, let me leave you with my contact information:
Twitter: baldy7
skype: tbaldasaro
email: tbaldasaro@gmail.com
delicious: tbaldasaro
diigo: baldy7
posterous: tbaldasaro
blog: www.transleadership.wordpress.com
Flickr: tonybaldasaro

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!


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