All posts by pgilders

Superintendent San Antonio Union Elementary School District, CA

Recommendations

Societal Barriers to Equity in Education 2019

2080 toddler retirementThis young man doesn’t talk yet, doesn’t walk yet, but he and his friends will be in classrooms across the United States in just a few short years. They will arrive familiar with how to use a smartphone and a tablet. They will likely look at desktop computers with interest at such a novel item. Will every classroom, every teacher, every lesson be prepared to engage him and his classmates with an education that uses the tools and technology of their generation? The tools that they are growing up with and that are already fully integrated into their personal lives?

Despite the fact, that the smartphone and similar technology are as commonplace, if not more so, than the crayon and pencil to today’s toddler and incoming kindergarten student, there continues to be significant debate about the integration of modern technology in the educational process. Nevertheless, the technological shift that is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is moving forward. Unsettling is the fact that education lags far behind private industry in its adaptation.

The full implementation of digital and cloud-based curriculum that is in alignment with the required shift in pedagogy to keep pace, not to mention a full grasp of the skills today’s student needs to be successful for a career that will take them through 2080, continues to elude much of the policy, legislation, and pedagogical practice designed to prepare students for life as a contributing national and global citizen.

It is with this in mind that discussions about the much-needed education revolution takes on increasing urgency. The required systemic shift lags too far behind what the workforce requires as evidenced by the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs Report. It is predicted that in as early as 2022 as part of the New Economy and New Society of the Fourth Industrial Revolution up to 54% of the workforce will require significant reskilling and upskilling in order to remain relevant. While automation will increasingly take over more mundane tasks, 38% of companies report that they expect to grow their workforce with new positions that correspond with the creativity and support that will be required to underpin new products and industry growth.

All the while a disparity continues to exist among gender and race as well as equitable access to educational opportunities, career entry and salary.

In 2016, before equity became a buzzword, a leader in the education community was preparing to facilitate a workshop that would explore tools and discussions around a district’s vision for modern instruments in education. The participants would be district and site leaders of a predominantly Hispanic community. In conducting a Google search for images of  “Mexican toddler using technology.” Here’s what popped:

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Now full disclosure, the author of this article was the leader of this workshop. As both an educator and the parent of a mixed race, Hispanic son, I was shocked! The educator in me in 2016 was stunned, the parent in me could hardly breathe.

The same search in 2019, yielded this result:

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As both an educator and the parent of a mixed race, Hispanic son, I was shocked again! 

A 2016 search for “white toddler using technology” yielded these images. Notice the distinct differences.

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“Okay,” I thought to myself, “be politically correct with your search term and see what happens with ‘Hispanic toddler using technology.”

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I’m thinking, “Better, but do my eyes deceive me or are most of these images still of white children?”

A 2019 search shows some improvement. However, notice the age of the children, the number of non-Hispanic children, the outdated television set and image without any device present.

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The next set of images of the same search bring real concern. Notice the activities, ages, race and captions that pop for “Hispanic toddler using technology.”

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My next thought in 2016 was, “Well, as long as I’ve started down this path…” black toddler using technology.”

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2019

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2016 “Asian toddler using technology”

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2019

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The 2019 search added gender.

Male toddler using technology.

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Two of fifteen images clearly depict girls and there is a clear bias in race.

Female toddler using technology.

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The first three images are of boys using technology. Seven of fourteen, 50%, of the images clearly include boys. Again, there is a clear bias towards race.

What began as quick Google search in 2016 turned out to have a far more profound impact on an already strong belief regarding the importance of the work educators do in breaking down stereotypes and providing equity in education. The images in the Google search speak loudly. Societal perceptions and expectations are clearly captured.

This “quick Google search” brings light to the call to action to support equity in both education and society as a whole. The cultural biases embedded in the everyday task of “googling” information continues to build on traditional stereotypes, reinforcing cultural biases that place clear limits not just on equitable opportunity but ensuring that society is empowering the intellect and skills that will allow for successful navigation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Recommendations

Influencing My Heart, My Mind, My Soul – The Best of 2018

2018 has been a wonderful year of learning, connecting, growing, and being inspired by the many great educators who I am blessed to work with. Thank you to everyone that I get to work with on a daily basis, through professional organizations such as CUE, ACSA, Future Ready/Alliance for Excellent Education and EIAK12. As the year draws to a close, here are the books, movies, and music that made me think, brought me inspiration, peace of mind, or that I just simply enjoyed. A few of these I just keep rereading as they sit by my bed or by my favorite chair in the living room. They weren’t all released during 2018. They are simply the books, movies, and music that found their way into my heart, my soul, and my intellect this past year.

Pile of Books

Favorite Books:

*Becoming by Michelle Obama

*The Time of Our Lives by Peggy Noonan

*Little Dreamers – Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison and recommended to me by a wonderful 3rd grade student.

*GMorning GNight by Lin-Manuel Miranda

*The Leadership Lessons of Jesus by Bob Briner and Ray Pritchard

*Wit and Wisdom from the Yoga Mat by Rachel Scott

*You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job -Workman Publishing New York

*The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly

*The Right Kind of Crazy by Adam Steltzner

*Transforming School Libraries by Ron Starker

*Mindset by Carol Dweck

*The Art of War by Sun Tzu

*How Great Leaders Think by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal

*The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

*Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

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Favorite Movies:

Mowgli – Legend of the Jungle

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Incredibles 2

Black Panther

Roma

Looking Forward to Watching:

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

If Beale St. Could Talk

Eighth Grade

First Man

 

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Favorite Songs

Blame it On Me by George Ezra

Budapest by George Ezra

Catch My Disease by Ben Lee

Lost in My Mind by The Head and the Heart

Home by Phillip Phillips

Wish I Knew You by the Revivalists

What Are We Waiting For by Leslie Odom, Jr.

I Can See Clearly Now by Jimmy Cliff

Hey, Hey, Hey by Michael Franti Spearhead

The Sound of Sunshine by Michael Franti and Spearhead

Island Style by John Cruz

Island in the Sun by Shwayze and Cisco

Simple by Florida Georgia Line

leadership

Championing Yourself for Others – A TedWomen Reflection

“The mind is like a dangerous neighborhood. You should never go there alone,” shared Kate Berardo as she quoted one of her favorite authors, Anne Lamott.

Too often we go on journeys of self doubt and worst case scenarios in our minds that never come to fruition. They do, however, hold us back from being our best selves thus halting our ability to champion for others. As Tarana Burke shared in her Ted Talk, “Trauma halts possibility. Movement creates possibility.” The impact of physical and emotional trauma  on society is significant. As such the impact of allowing the mind to travel unchecked can lead to the halting of possibility as well.

Travel with caution as you let your mind journey. Do not allow your mind to lead to unnecessary trauma. Do not allow it to halt possibility.

Share the journey of possibility, of doubt, of fear, of exploration and action with a trusted champion. Take a hold of what is possible. As you feed your own soul, you will find the space that allows you to champion others and nourish their souls as well.

Sometimes our fiercest champions say nothing. They are just there for us. -Kate Berardo.

Kate Berardo is an accomplished professional woman and Head of Leadership Development at Facebook. She shared her expertise at the “How to Champion for Others” workshop at TedWomen 2018.

 

Recommendations

Back in the Classroom

I got to spend a whole day teaching!

Teaching Day Photo

Yes, a whole day. I’ll admit when I got the text Sunday evening letting me know that none of our subs were available, I had mixed feelings about spending the whole day teaching. I loved the idea of teaching, but I have a full inbox, board policies to review, a facilities plan that needs updating, two community meetings to prepare for and facilitate this week, contracts to move forward…

However, I had the best day and yes, while teaching is definitely a demanding position, I found that current technology has changed the modern student’s knowledge base, and that can make teaching a lot more fun and interesting than it use to be, and  I’ve always loved teaching. 

Somewhat serendipitously, I came across this post from Eric Curts’ on Twitter feed this weekend and sent it to myself thinking, “This would be fun to do if I got the opportunity to guest teach.” Yep, it was fun to do and the students had as much fun learning about me as I did about them.

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For more great lesson ideas from Eric Curts check out: https://www.controlaltachieve.com/

The top ten items that made teaching today more fun, interesting and dare I say easier than what I remember from back in the day:

  • Being able to set a timer on my phone for every single transition and reminder needed throughout the day
  • Being able to play music with a couple of taps on the same device as the timer
  • The Google Suite of Tools! Lesson plans on the fly, sharing, and collaborating all happened within in minutes and the students were engaged as they watched me prepare via the projector and listen to me explain the directions and the why of the activities while they waited for the assignment to appear in their inbox.
  • Instant evaluation and monitoring of student work through shared Google Docs and Slides.
  • YouTube! There is so much rich and interesting content to use as a hook for lessons.
  • Twitter – Instant lessons plans around the 4Cs (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity).
  • Facebook – Instant lessons plans around the 4Cs (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity).
  • Lesson Planning – Seriously, being connected to such a great PLN made lesson planning quick, easy, and fun.
  • The Students – Today’s student has a wealth of knowledge and skill sets that just didn’t even exist when I was teaching full-time. They are able to correct, share, and collaborate with adults with ease.
  • Experience – I’ve been observing hundreds of different teachers for the past ten years which has given me the gift of really knowing what effective and engaging instruction looks and feels like.

*Bonus Item (because this is education and even if bonus points are a flawed grading practice, we all like our bonus points!) Formative Assessment and Immediate Feedback embedded digitally and immediately throughout the entire day. Wow, just wow!

Here’s to you Teachers! You have a great job and I was thrilled to be fully among your ranks again today.

leadershipRecommendations

Preparing Ourselves and Our Students for an Automated World

 

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend ISTE18 in Chicago where forward-thinking educators and vendors come together to learn, network, dream, and reflect. The experience was an occasion to be surrounded by the innovative, those who are iterating on current practices and tools and those who are creating the completely new. The enhancements to personalized and interactive learning through virtual and augmented reality are noteworthy. The tools to develop early learning skills such as sequencing through basic coding applications for K-2 students are inspiring. The shift that has already happened in private industry and the systemic disconnect with pedagogical practices was astonishing.

There continues to be a draw to the “shiny.” We like app smashing. We like tools that save time. Yet, we struggle to connect these to creating knowledge among adult and child learners that shift us from consumers to creators of content that is relevant to building contemporary skills, fluency, and meaningful learning applications that align with what our students need to be successful in the workforce. There is a continuing struggle to simultaneously develop these skill sets as well as those necessary to perform well on the standardized tests our society values as a measure of a student and school’s success.

With that in mind, presentations by Carl Hooker and Brianna Hodges and Eric Curts were noteworthy for their focus on enhancing pedagogical practices, empowering struggling learners, and inviting educators into planning processes to both enhance and empower the student learning experience.

We have pockets of excellence with educators like Hodges, Hooker, and Curts happening in schools and different classrooms happening in schools and districts across the country. However, we struggle to create the conditions in which these practices become systemically ingrained across all of learning including the professional learning of educators. As the world continues to become increasingly automated, the necessity of preparing students with the foundation that prepares them for an automated world for behind the scenes careers focused on design, experience, personalization, and technical knowledge continues to grow as a moral imperative to society.

Heading to San Francisco via O’Hare, a series of events struck me that drove home the urgency there is to prepare our students for jobs in a largely automated world.

I checked in to my flight on the United App the evening before from an Uber ordered through the app while heading to Hamilton. I paid for my luggage on the same app in another Uber on my way to the airport the next morning. I weighed and printed out the sticker for my luggage at an automated kiosk, scanned my boarding pass from the app as I went through security and boarded the plane. Along the way, there were a lot of travelers, but my experience was largely automated and self-driven as well as very different from school environments.

Even refilling a water bottle and flushing the toilet was automated.

I came home to find that I had received a paper check in the mail. I opened the Chase Bank app on my phone and within moments, the check was deposited. I noticed we were low on some non-perishable items in the cupboards, opened the Amazon app and reordered the items with a few taps at a lower cost than our local stores and home delivery.

The implications of these experiences for student learning demonstrate the urgency to hire personnel who are adaptable, who stay connected to the contemporary and connect their own learning to private industry as well as education. It is imperative that all schools, regardless of size or location are provided with the expertise and funding levels that allow students and communities to experience the shift to modernization before it surprises them or they aren’t prepared to navigate and compete in a world with tools that require creativity and critical thinking skills to fully access what is becoming ubiquitous in some communities while remaining novel or unknown in others.

Not only will our students need the creativity and critical thinking skills to access the automated world, but they will need the critical thinking skills to design, communicate, and work collaboratively in a world that will require this of them to be successful, contributing members to society.

Our challenge as leaders grows to invite the politicians who make crucial decisions regarding funding and assessment of education success criteria into a shared understanding of what is needed to prepare this and the next generation of student to be successful in careers that will take them into the 22nd Century.

 

leadershipRecommendations

Remember to Feed Your Soul

      “Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes…”                                                                                                                             Paramahansa Yogananda

FeedYourSoulDoes what you’re doing feed your soul?

Spring brings reflection and opportunities for change, particularly in the field of education. College students wonder about changing majors, changing schools. Teachers and professors wonder if they are in the right place, right grade level, right subject matter, on the right team. Leaders wonder if they are in the right organization, are they leading their teams well, have they empowered others to be their best?

“When do you sleep?” “You look so happy.” “You must love what you do.” “Are you going to quit?” “I feel in limbo.” “Should I really change majors?” “I was told I could make more money…”

There is a dichotomy to these questions and statements every one of which I’ve heard this past week. Each question, each statement allows for the same responses, “What  is it about what you’re doing that feeds your soul?” “What is that you think will feed your soul about the change you are considering?” “What does success look like and feel like to you?” Success is not defined by what others think and feel about your decision. Success is defined by how you feel and think about your decisions when you lay down to fall asleep at night.

Ask yourself, “What my feeds my soul?” 

Do what energizes you. Do what makes you smile. Do that which makes you feel vibrant and causes others to ask and comment, “Do you sleep? You look so happy.”

…and remember

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambitioned inspired, and success achieved.                                                                                                                   Helen Keller

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love Never Stops

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“Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 

As educators of faith, let us remember that, love never stops…

…being patient Help us to remember to be patient with our students who struggle, with colleague’s who we may not see eye to eye with, with parents whose support we don’t feel, and community members that we work in partnership with.

 …believing Help us to remember that every child, every student, can grow and learn. Help us to remember that we do have the patience and the ability to support them. Help us to remember that everyone has the same goal of doing good work for children.

…hoping Help us to have the energy and enthusiasm to always bring our best, to know that we are making a difference in the lives of children and the direction of their futures.

Love never gives up. Help us to remember that through the challenges, You are by our side and the side of every student we serve. Help us to remember that when negativity comes our way, to stay true to the work of helping and teaching children, to supporting and accepting support from our colleagues, parents, and community. Help us to keep an open mind when listening to those who don’t agree. Help us to do work in the interest of all children unconditionally, to forgive, and give the gift of grace to ourselves and to others.

Recommendations

Leading During Times of Trial

I was given the book The Time of Our Lives by Peggy Noonan by a community member with a note that read, “May this book bring you inspiration during times of trial.” Remember, sometimes doing the right thing is hard!”

The gift and the note were timely. I had just been on the receiving end of some strong criticism.  I was challenged in a public a meeting with statements of, “I don’t care what the law says,” and “I don’t care if there isn’t money in the budget. Make it happen,” and finally, “So, what are you saying? We’re not going to get our way?”

This reminded me of a popular cartoon in education circles:

 

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While satirical, the cartoon has become well known among educators because it is often how we feel things are. It was certainly how I felt as those comments were called out.

But, back to the book…

As I read the introduction, I was struck by the opening quote, from Laurens van der Post “We live not only in our lives, but, whether we know it or not, also the life of our time.”

Noonan writes of being a pioneer. Initially, as a part of the “first great wave of women” to enter the field of journalism during the 1970s, then as a female speechwriter for the President during the Reagan years, and finally as one of the first internet columnists for the Wall St. Journal. She writes of a society looking for a “shock to the system” in the last presidential election.

As I read her words, I was struck by the “shock to the system,” the changes in education have brought over the past ten years to what once seemed very standard and therefore safe. There was a perception that grandparents, parents, and children would ultimately have pretty similar school experiences and stories. It may not have been exciting, but it was safe.

The past ten years have brought significant changes to the standards that are taught, to the methods used to teach them, to the technology that is still being experimented with, to keeping children safe and emotionally regulated, to the classroom and furniture design, to the way schools are funded or underfunded. Our children’s classroom and play experiences no longer look like those so fondly remembered by past generations. To some this is exciting; to others this is frightening. When we become afraid or nervous about something it is because we sense danger. What is unfamiliar or unknown can bring forth strong reactions.

It can be scary to not understand a once familiar system. It can be scary to not understand the changes. Statements such as, “I don’t care what the law says,” and “I don’t care if there isn’t money in the budget. Make it happen,” and “So, what are you saying? We’re not going to get our way?” can come from a genuine place of seeking what one believes is in the best interest. It can bring genuine frustration that while the concerns are heard, they are not changing a course of action.

Changes to our education system, the way students learn inside and outside of classrooms are going to continue. We will either adapt or we will risk becoming irrelevant. It does not feel safe to move forward into the unknown, but it is clear that we must nevertheless move in that direction.

Even with this knowledge, these statements have continued to make me uneasy.

In a  homily, given by Father Kelly Vanderhey at Mission San Luis Obispo, he stated, “Freedom against the law is freedom against humanity.”

“Freedom against the law is freedom against humanity,”

The sermon continued with the reflection that there are seven really difficult years in everyone’s life. Seven years of pain that we all struggle through. Those seven years are from the ages of 13-19. These are the years during which we most struggle for freedom. We struggle for freedom from our parents and from rules. We seek independence. Yet, we are not ready to accept the full responsibility and accountability for those freedoms. We also seek to avoid the consequences for not following the rules.

It seems we may be in the teenage years of transformation in education. We seek independence from a system we know wasn’t working for children. We struggle with the transition. We want the freedom to explore and experiment to truly meet the educational, social, and emotional needs of every child. We have to be strong because it can feel easy to give in to the pressure that is loud.

While laws, rules, policies, and regulations can be boring, it turns out that these are what ultimately do keep us safe during times of change, struggle, and disagreement.

In her book, Noonan also quotes Pope John XXIII:

Do not walk through time without leaving worthy evidence of your passage.

Continue to lead during times of trial for it is when we are out of our comfort zones that the magic will happen.