ULearn – Keynote #1: Grant Lichtman

Presentation title: On the Road: Keys to Successful School Innovation in Times of Change – Link to the ULearn conversation. @GrantLichtman

What is the one word you want your school to reek of? #OneWordK12 #uLearn15 – then survey your students and see what one word describes the end of their day.

What’s the difference between just going to school and really great learning? The difference between a classroom where a student is just sitting there and where they are deeply engaged is when they have come up with their own problem which they are solving themselves.

The word is changing at a dramatic rate. The sum of human knowledge is doubling at a enormous rate.

Re-imaging the fundamental learning relationship between teachers, students, and knowledge. Education is not about technology; Innovation is not about technology; but knowledge is now instantly accessible. Educators have to think beyond just transferring knowledge.

Global shift in relationship between providers and consumers. Mutation in many sectors like retail as a results of these developments. Education is mutating too.

Grant packed up his Prius and set off on a solo, nationwide research tour to discover what schools are doing to prepare students for an evolving future. Find out what he learned from three months on the road visiting 21 states, 64 schools, and the great ideas of 500 educators

  • What does innovation mean to you?
  • What are the obstacale syou’ve had to overcome
  • What are your successes?

What are some of the trends?

  • We are becoming more dynamic. They are up out of their chairs, classrooms are messy, noisy and chaotic, featuring tailored learning and some risky decisions.
  • We are becoming much more adaptive. The world isn’t classified into subject areas, teachers are collaborating and there are exciting new courses.
  • We are becoming much more permeable to the world around us. Schools are more connected to their communities where students spend time off campus, working and developing projects. Online and blended making connections that are local, regional, and global.The learning is becoming much more relevant.
  • We are becoming more creative. We can make in every subject. Students are owning their learning, creating knowledge and they are embracing failure.

Environmental ecosystems (creative, creative, permeable, adaptive, and self correcting) are completely different to the industrial system (contained, controlled, predictable, measureable, repeatable).

Welcome to the Cognitosphere – the evolving neuronetwork that have connectivity with each other. Involves the creation of knowledge in a shared space (online). You need to be part of this system because that is how we are going to think about education in the future. We don’t have to make a choice between passionate and engaged students and good results – this is a false dichotomy.

What holds us back? Fear and inertia. We cannot innovate without taking risks. Schools getting stuck with anchors and silos. Change is hard. Is it hard or is it uncomfortable? Let’s embrace that discomfort and get comfortable with discomfort.

Educator-leader – teacher as co-learner. Not sage on stage or guide on the side. Instead the metaphor is a teacher as a farmer. The farmer lays out a fence-line, prepare the conditions for growth, and then make sure the nutrients get to the system and do some pruning and caring along the way!

Use ‘What if’ – challenge anything you want in your school. Write it on a postit note and workshop the results. USA data: 70% of the 2000 results that Lichtman found:

  • Breaking silos
  • Student ownership of learning
  • Revising student assessment
  • Blow up the daily schedule
  • Differentiated learning
  • Annual calendar
  • Role of the teacher
  • Community integration
  • Promote innovation

Familiar graphic adapted from Managing Change (resource from Grant Jones…what was his source… I have that on my desk at home).

The big challenge:

  • We have the hardware (teachers, buildings, infrastructure)
  • We have the software (applications not textbooks)
  • We have to build a new operating system (has not been updated in 150 years)

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