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A Day at the White House

20160504_095532This is Roberto Rodriguez, the Deputy Assistant to the President for Education. That title means he has President Obama’s ear on all things education. He is often called the most influential person in American education.

I was honored and humbled to share key ideas from Every Student STEM during our Innovation and STEM Education spark discussion at the White House last week.

Every P-12 student in our schools today is a digital native. From the first moment they interact with any digital device, children begin developing STEM skills. It is the inherent nature of a digital world. 

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Principal Shadows Student, Gets Schooled

A Day in the Life of an 8th Grader

I had just finished my morning coffee. Looking out of my office window, I saw AC entering the building with his sister. I popped up from my desk, met him at the door and asked, “Are you ready?”

“Yep,” he eagerly replied.

From there, we proceeded to breakfast in the cafeteria. I could tell he didn’t know quite what to think about the fact that his principal had dressed in ‘regular’ clothes and was planning to follow him around school the entire day. I wondered how students and teachers would react when they saw me in class.

To Reach the Child Who Hungers for Purpose

Digital vs. Analog

Many of my colleagues in the field believe Every Student Stem. By upbringing and by trade, I am not a programmer. A gamer-at-heart perhaps, but not a programmer. Yet I believe in that mantra as well.

It is silly for us to view today’s student as anything but a ‘STEM’ student. As a parent I often times find myself comparing my 4-year-old’s vocabulary to mine at his age. His frequent use of the terms profile and wi-fi astound me. When he fires up our XBOX 360, I must ask him to make sure he signed out of his brother’s profile and signed in with his own in order to avoid deleting anything.

Craziness!484

My parents never said those kinds of things to me. We didn’t connect around Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo or King’s Quest on our Tandy 1000. I spent my childhood on a bridge between analog world and digital world – a bridge that my parents saw no use in crossing. A bridge that many saw no use in crossing.

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HMW Rewrite the Code for Teachers?

1st Year Teacher

I have been educating young people for more than 25 years, so I am not a first-year teacher. But this is my first year in a public school classroom… or at least an academic core subject classroom. I was prepared for the gifts and the antics of adolescents, although there have been a number of surprises.

I was not prepared for the high-pressure demands on teachers both from within the educational system and with-out. Every new career calls all previous learning and experience into play, so I knew what was coming. The stress in teaching has just come from so many unexpected angles and places that I leave school each day exhausted. I have yet to feel that exhilarating moment when a student gets it like so many teachers describe. Sometimes I wonder… what’s wrong with me?

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Every Student STEM

For Your Consideration

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Colorado Senate Education Committee

I was asked to submit a letter to the Colorado House Education Committee in support of two upcoming bills regarding technology education in public schools and career development courses for high school students. These two bills HB-1289 and HB-1291 would provide additional funding for students and teachers to gain tech expertise and opportunity while in school. I am a 2015 Colorado Educator Voice Fellow and have been actively involved in the legislative actions in education during the past year. Here is my letter: House Ed Committee Letter.

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A View From Below

Ground Control to Major Tom

I am now in my sixteenth year at ground level in education. Although I always try to view things from above, the fact remains that I am knee-deep in the field. What the Marines might affectionately refer to as…well…you know.

10,000 feet above gives me a lot of perspective but below is where reality settles in. Above is where the problems are really visible. Below is where the problems are really really visible. Below is where you get to speak with the students and the teachers and the administrators and the parents and begin to see the problem from their perspective.

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A View from 10K Feet

Trees-for-the-Forest

Sometimes it’s easier for an outsider to see a situation more clearly than an insider. The whole forest-for-the-trees thing. When we are too up close and personal, it’s all too easy to miss the simple solutions to complex questions. The longer we live and work among the trees, the more attached and invested we are in nurturing the growth of each one individually. It is ever so easy to lose sight of what is happening in the forest.

And vice versa. We know there are always two sides to every story or another viewpoint to balance our own. I have had the privilege to live in the forest and among the trees in EdWorld. I have a story for you. It is a true story.

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Are We Willing to Change Our Lens?

Change IS Hard

The hardest part about change is that it’s hard. No matter if we are talking about personal or organizational change. Real and lasting change requires sustained dedication to a cause. Quite honestly, that in and of itself, goes against the flow of every fiber of being for those who live in the 21st century. Which is all of us. We are all about instant gratification these days. Sustained dedication is not the normal mode of operation.

Care Enough

A student left me this message on my whiteboard.

Anymore, we are socially/ emotionally/ developmentally and professionally conditioned to resist change. Which on the surface appears ironic, and even untrue, given the outrageous, incredible blur of speed that dictates our everyday pace these days. Looking from the outside in, any stranger might rightly assume we all embrace change in this modern-day whirlwind of a culture. So not the case.