Monday, June 30, 2014

Great Reading on Ed Reform by a Local Leader

That leader is Trish Millines Dziko who started Technology Access Foundation and is truly a great thinker on how to push the needle forward for students of color using STEM-based curriculum with project-based learning.

Trish has written a series on her thoughts about ed reform (she's frustrated) and we think - intentionally - about the work of educating children on a school level.

Time to Transform Public Schools: Part 1- Brown v Board, An Incomplete Journey
Time to Transform Public Schools:Part 2 - A Vision for a Great School
Time to Transform Public Schools: Part 3 - Don't Drink the Milk (complete with a charming Little Rascals video to prove her point)

I believe in what Dziko is doing (and saying) for several reasons.

One, she is willing to listen.  But then, she is also willing - publicly and loudly - to call BS when she sees it.

Two, she and her team have put in the hard work to build a school, TAF Academy, that works.  What's interesting is that both she and Charlie Mas have a common belief around what she calls "Creating a School Culture- Intentionally."  What are principals setting forth as the values and reasoning behind the work at their schools? 

Understand that every school has a culture whether it was intentional or not.  You want it to be intentional so you can create an environment that will invoke the highest levels of teaching and learning. The culture of a school is really how you want everyone to relate to each other, the types of outcomes you want for students, how you teach, how families are connected, the way you want staff to interact with other adults, who all plays a role and how, your norms, etc.  When people walk into your school and spend a little time, they should be able to feel your culture as they move throughout the building and interact with folks.

An established culture transcends the changes in leadership and staff.  It provides a level of consistency that is missing and much needed.  

Like Trish, I think relationships at schools - of all kinds - truly matter and are what keep all adults and children engaged and happy.

Three, TAF's model for STEM is now seeing teams of educators trying to get a walk-thru of her program so they can use TAF's project-based learning model.   When you have people knocking at your door asking how you are doing so well with children of color without rigid rules and with sincere caring and strong academics, you are doing something right.

Dziko is asking parents to participate in an informal research project on what the school culture is at your child's school and expectations around it.  

Wouldn’t you like to know what you child’s school culture is and what is expected of them?  So would I.  Ask you principal this simple question: “How would you define the culture of our school?”.  If you have time and the inclination to do so, please send me an email with the answer.  I don’t need to know the name of the school, just whether it’s elementary, middle, high, K-8, K-12 or 6-12. Thanks for taking the time to read this!  I’m interested in your comments, so please do.

trishmi@techaccess.org. Please use the subject “My School’s Culture”.

3 comments:

ben said...

I don't suppose Trish is the person you had in mind to draft for Superintendent? Anyway, TAF sounds really great. Hopefully Cleveland HS can become something similar.

Carol Simmons said...

Yes, I re read Trish's position papers. Thank you. She is a wonderful person and an effective and wonderful educator who speaks the truths. We can and must change the culture of many of our public schools and emphasize relationships as well as "rigor" .........However, we must make certain that our schools remain "public" schools. It can and must be done.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually she isn't but she mentioned it on Facebook. I would be thrilled if she applied because she would bring knowledge, ability and a no-nonsense style to SPS.