As I prepared for the 2017-18 school year, I had lots to consider: my learning the past year as a part of the Texas Principal’s Visioning Institute, the feedback that I received from my students, staff, and parents through various data points, the past that had resulted in the path Degan was on, and the aspirations that we had for our students. The question that kept ringing in my head was “How in the world do I create a vision to help us move forward with all of this to consider?”
My campus had been fortunate to experience lots of success and recognition for the accomplishments we have made with transformation. At the same time, we have also experienced some pretty big hits to culture. It’s hard to put this much energy into getting our flywheel moving. I think we all thought after three years, it would be starting to have its own momentum. It’s not very comforting to hear that real change takes three to five years when you are in year four. How would we keep moving forward? What would be our rallying cry for this next push to transform learning in meaningful ways so that our students could be successful?
The answer was actually in the data. It was clear that as a campus we had made great strides in understanding what it was students were to learn and proven strategies to ensure that learning. We understood our changing demographics and could relate to them and build meaningful relationships. Yet, we were still short of the goal. What our data showed was that we needed to evolve in how we were having teachers use technology and that teachers wanting to design more engaging, innovative work, but they needed time and practice to make this happen.
Then it hit me. It was time to get our “game on”, literally, and level up learning for our students.
I love the mental image this theme created. It acknowledges that first, our work, like games should be fun! It should be challenging enough to keep our interest, while still being attainable. We should receive feedback that adds value and helps us shape our decision-making to improve our processes. We need to feel a part of a network in achieving the goal.
I am so excited about this year. Today, we had our first professional learning and we made connections to the work of Jane McGonigal and her book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. While not everything in learning has to be digital, it recognizes that games release some of the control to the gamer and allow them to test out theories to achieve the goals. My teachers had the chance to explore how to incorporate some of these concepts into their learning design today. Today teachers created and shared some cool new ideas. I can’t wait to see the impact in the classrooms with students!
For my afternoon learning, I got to reconnect with the Texas Principal’s Visioning Institute. Listening to Alan November just reinforced my belief that my campus is on the right path. When we only focus on testing, we don’t have fun.