New Slide: What Do You Want LEADERS to Do With Technology?

Most members of Radical Nation know that I whipped up an image titled What Do You Want Students to Do With Technology a few years ago that tends to resonate with audiences.  It is certainly the most popular piece of content that I have ever created, racking up nearly 40,000 views on Flickr and turning up in #edtech presentation after #edtech presentation.

A few weeks ago, my buddy George Couros — who writes extensively about school leadership and modern learning spaces over at The Principal of Change — created a mashed up version of the slide designed to detail the kinds of things that school prinicpals and superintendents should be doing with technology.

With George’s permission, I turned his thinking into another hand drawn image that looks similar to the original.  Check it out here:

(Click here to view/enlarge/download the original image on Flickr)

So whaddya’ think?  Are George’s ideas about the role that technology should play in the lives of school leaders?  What would you add to his lists?

More importantly, are these the kinds of things that YOU are doing with technology?  If not, why not?!


Related Radical Reads:

Technology is a Tool, NOT a Learning Outcome

MORE on Technology is a Tool, NOT a Learning Outcome

Losing the Confidence of our Communities


Fruity Umbrella Drinks and Giant Jugs of Coppertone.

Cranky Blogger’s Warning:  I’m wound up, y’all.  That means this post is heavy on the Radical and light on the Tempered.  There’s enough truth in it, though, that I wanted to share it with you.  Just remember that I was straight riled when I wrote it.  


I blew a gasket yesterday.  A neighbor read my recent post about my salary and slipped comfortably into a rant about teachers and how easy our jobs are and how he’s sick of hearing us complain given that we work from 8 until 3 and have three months off every summer.


So I uncorked.  Like spittle flying from the corners of my mouth uncorked.  Like “Holy Smokes, THAT guy is angry” uncorked.  Like I don’t think he’s sending me any more Christmas cards uncorked.


What dudeman doesn’t understand is that I DON’T HAVE A THREE MONTH VACATION.  Instead, I spend all of that legendary “free time” that teachers get working part-time jobs.

Need proof?  Read this.  Better yet, stop by the dirty McDonalds near my house RIGHT NOW.  It’s a snow day and I’m grinding through a bunch of tasks on my part-time to do list as we speak.  I’ll buy you a two-pack of cookies and you can hang out with the teenagers smoking eCigarettes in the booth behind me.  Be prepared for the smell of sewage, though.  The toilets in the mens room are kind of janky.


Nowadays, my part-time jobs are mostly professional gigs.  I write books for teachers, deliver professional development and consult with schools, districts and companies across North America.  It’s good work that challenges me and pays well, but it ain’t easy.  Most of the time, that work involves sitting behind a computer screen trying to translate good ideas into solid instructional practices or traveling to schools and districts to show other teachers how to integrate those practices into their work.

But over the past 22 years, I’ve done more than my fair share of grunt work, too.  I’ve stocked shelves at grocery stores, I’ve manned the register at gas stations, I’ve worked the counter at bookstores, I’ve driven school busses for after school programs and summer camps, I’ve been the on-ice skate guard at the local ice rink, and I’ve worked for a landscaping company.


Sure, I have more vacation days than my neighbors and friends working in more traditional professions.  But the notion that I’m spending those vacation days lounging by the pool with a fruity umbrella drink and a giant jug of Coppertone is a fallacy, y’all.  The truth is that I’m spending those vacation days — and all of those “free” hours after the school day ends — just trying to make ends meet.

And I’m not the only one.  Heck, most of my friends and colleagues who are full-time teachers and the main providers for their families are working part-time jobs, too.  One works at the help desk at the local Apple store 20-30 hours a week.  Another stocks shelves at the Office Depot.  A third tutors four days a week and plays live shows at local bars three or four times a month. And a fourth coaches high level youth soccer teams.

Now don’t get me wrong:  Teaching is remarkable work and I’m blown away every day by just how lucky I am.  I have the chance to change lives — and I get to see the tangible impact of my work every time that a student walks through the door of my room with a story to share or a success to show me.  That’s the reason I still teach even though teaching doesn’t pay my bills.


But to suggest that I only work seven hours a day and 180 days a year is ludicrous.  It’s an antiquated and offensive notion that often becomes an excuse for paying teachers next to nothing.  

In the end, we have to decide as a community if we are okay with forcing accomplished teachers to find other work just to pay their bills?  What are the consequences — for our kids and our communities — when we fail to pay the folks in our classrooms competitive wages?  Can we really be surprised when good people quit, given that staying often means constantly worrying about where the next part-time paycheck is going to come from?



Related Radical Reads:

Teaching is a Grind

I Made $54,000 Last Year

The Truth about North Carolina’s Historic Pay Raise for Teachers

I Made $54,000 Last Year.

I can remember the first time that I ever asked my Dad — who was a foreman at a Chevy plant that made rear axles for pickup trucks — how much money he made in a year.  It was the mid-1980s and I was working on a project for school.

His answer:  $50,000.

From that moment, $50,000 became a target to me.

If I could make $50,000, I knew that I could support a family and have a good home and go on vacations and send my kids to college.  If I could make $50,000, I could be a good provider and a good husband — something that mattered to me after having watched my father do those things for our family.

Doing my taxes yesterday, I realized that I made $54,000 last year.

After 22 years of full-time classroom teaching, after earning a master’s degree and after earning certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards TWICE, I’m FINALLY making what my father made in the mid-1980s.





Related Radical Reads:

Teaching is a Grind

The Truth about North Carolina’s Historic Pay Raises for Teachers

More on North Carolina’s Historic Pay Raises for Teachers

Do Cheap and Easy Letter Grades Tell the Whole Accountability Story?

For the past several years, North Carolina’s legislature has been working to reimagine almost everything about education in our state.  Their most recent move:  Releasing A-F letter grades for every school in every county in our state.  “North Carolina public school parents now have an easy-to-understand letter grade to help them evaluate school performance,” argued Bill Cobey, the Chairman of the State Board of Education.

The only factor considered in assigning a letter grade to each school are results from our most recent round of standardized testing.  To make matters worse, only twenty percent of a building’s grade is based on year-after-year growth rates that students show on our state’s exams.  Eighty percent is based on nothing more than passing rates.  The results have been sadly predictable:  Schools in struggling communities are almost universally failing under the new system while schools in wealthier communities are racking up high marks.

What troubles me the most is the suggestion that student scores on end of grade tests are a reliable way to identify successful schools.

While A-F letter grades drawn from multiple choice exams may be easy to generate and easy to understand, it is ridiculous to suggest that scores drawn from the current iteration of knowledge-driven standardized tests are an indicator of anything other than kids who can remember REALLY well.

Need proof?  Then consider the fact that my sixth grade students NAILED last year’s end of grade exam in science — a result that I should be ready to celebrate given the fact that our state’s legislators recently made student performance on standardized tests a significant factor in teacher evaluation and compensation decisions here in North Carolina.  According to their metrics, I am an instructional all-star.

But nailing the end of grade exam means almost nothing, y’all.

It means that my students knew a TON of trivial details — and that I spent an inordinate amount of time cramming those trivial details into their minds instead of doing anything close to actual science in my classroom.  My kids could tell you that light bends and slows when it enters a dense medium, that scientists use earthquake waves to learn more about the interior of the earth, and that the key ingredient in healthy soil is humus — but ask them to design an experiment, to share their results in a convincing way, or to collaborate around an investigation and they’d probably be stumped.

And that’s the beef that I have with communities who are committed to finding easy ways to evaluate school performance.

The uncomfortable truth is that adopting easy to understand metrics almost always results in adopting metrics that measure outcomes that are becoming increasingly irrelevant in a world where knowing is cheap and easy.  Employers in the innovation economy aren’t clamoring for kids with killer memories.  They are clamoring for kids who are creative thinkers and good partners and innovators and dreamers and doers.

So what does that mean for people who care deeply about the success of both our students and our schools?

It means that it’s high time that WE start clamoring for something more than cheap and easy measures of school performance.  The simple truth is that high-stakes accountability models that reward the delivery and mastery of low-level skills fail everyone — not just kids who live in poverty.



Related Radical Reads:

If I’m .84 Points from Statistical Perfection, Why am I So Darn Angry?

Is Standardized Testing Changing Me for the Worse?

How Testing Will Change What I Teach Next Year








New Slide: Losing the Confidence of Our Communities