SLA Isn’t THE Promised Land. (Emphasis on the THE.)

  1. I don’t believe that the folks at SLA say such things.  But I see and hear them from admirers. []
  2. Again, plenty of folks seem to believe otherwise. []

21 thoughts on “SLA Isn’t THE Promised Land. (Emphasis on the THE.)

  1. As someone that is excited to be heading out to Educon in a few days; I have to admit that your post is timely, honest, and thought provoking.
    It is not just about this conference, but it’s about the conversations that come and continue because of it. We should be appreciating and building upon every learning experience, including day to day reminders in the classroom., that’s a no-brainer. And after reflection, looking at what we do well and how can we connect with more educators and more teachers. I love your quote, Good schools are about people honestly and intentionally working together very purposefully.” I agree, I am proud of my profession that we have made the strides we have from the first Educon. I think the conversations are being had and the climate is changing. I get excited when I hear about un-conferences becoming more prevalent across the country. Is it fast enough, no, but its forward. The last decade has been great for education, I am looking forward to the next steps.

  2. It’s always wise to see the world through clear eyes, Bud. The academy is clearly an amazing innovative school and we are all the better for the fact that they are so willing to share out their ideas. But, not every school will be or should be like the academy. It is on us to envision what our schools should look like and plan on how to get there. And I am not talking charter schools either. I am talking about the public schools where many of us teach and struggle to bring innovative ideas to our colleagues. The academy is a great model, but not the end of the line.
    Kevin Hodgson
    .-= Kevin Hodgson´s last blog ..That book on the shelf is a dictionary =-.

  3. What you write, Bud, is in my mind analogous to being critical learners of the technologies we use to educate (ourselves and others) as opposed to being in awe of what technology can do. Which, ironically, is what I think the educators and students and parents and guardians involved in SLA would want us to do anyway. I for one will take away from your post the positive exhortation to consider context as we travel to EduCon or experience the conference online, to see ourselves as capable within our own schools of making meaningful change. As someone heading to Philadelphia tomorrow, your post will resonate in my brain.
    .-= Paul Oh´s last blog ..quiet is ok =-.

  4. I am sorry that people were hurt — but I do thank you for writing this post.

    I truly am a huge fan of Chris (always will be) — his humility, his genuineness, and his vision and love for students is admirable and not often seen in most administrators.

    I truly enjoyed my time at SLA at the first Educon — and follow their progress from tweets from Chris and visits to their website. They are doing fantastic things.

    The dynamics at that school are fantastic and even if we tried to duplicate them — it would be impossible without a full cloning of staff, buildings, students, environment, etc. And I am so glad you shared this post.

    SLA has many many MANY qualities that need to be used as examples within our schools. But being a SLA clone can’t be one.

    I think the ONE thing that CL does very well (that we all need to duplicate immediately) is the fact that I have NEVER heard him share the downsides of his school. Everything is always the positive. I am sure there is “junk” but at least in print (twitter, blog posts, articles) he emphasizes the good — always the good. That is something we should all duplicate immediately……

    Thanks for posting this.

  5. Thanks for a thought provoking post. I cannot agree with you more. The same hold true to a great lesson that may happen in a teacher’s classroom. It can’t be replicated by someone else, but we have to look at the lesson, the environment, the students, the teacher, the space, the interactions, and more and learn from it. I was at SLA last year and that is how I approached my visit. What can I learn? What could I replicate? What can I add to what is already being done or take away? Or I may come up with something totally different.

    Thanks for pushing my thinking…

  6. I’m trying to figure out what else to say other than, “A-yep.”

    The whole purpose for the conference is to come together around ideas. And yes, there are some guiding principles that move the conference, and they are principles that inform SLA as well, but very deliberately, the conference isn’t about SLA. It’s about this whole community that exists around inquiry-driven modern (is that a better word than 21st Century, I dunno) learning.

    I never quite know what to do when people talk about replicating SLA. There are so many ways I could imagine we could have done things differently… and I love finding places that share some guiding ideas as ours but have implemented them SO differently.

    The point of inquiry-driven, project-based learning is that one-size doesn’t fit all kids. It’s true for schools too. What makes SLA work is that a group of teachers and students and parents came together around a vision and made — and continue to make — that vision real every day. The school evolves because of the people who care deeply about what goes on there. Every community should have the chance to figure out what they care about and to build schools that reflect and enhance their vision.
    .-= Chris Lehmann´s last blog ..Educon 2.2 – Looking Forward and Looking Back =-.

  7. Bud (and Chris),

    I think you both nailed it with your statements about WORKING TOGETHER, INTENTIONALITY, and VISION. SLA is indeed a unique school, and I”m blessed to have had so many different levels of exposure to the faculty and their work. We’ve had so many of our teachers here exposed to the good work there, but are they coming back here and doing “SLA’s” work? No. Why? Just as you noted the context is different in many ways, not the least of which is a K-12 independent school that has been around for 85 years in a very traditional college-prep culture.

    SLA and the experience of EduCon (which is not just about SLA–think about the variety of conversations and facilitators) is about being able to be with people whose infectious spirit, fabulous vision, unity of purpose and work ethic, and downright just “good peopledness” are shared so generously. It feels like the kind of “good home” I’d want to be a part of, and hopefully that I am working alongside others here to create, in partnership with our parents…and our students. At the end of the day, the question we attendees should each ask ourselves is what kind of “good home” are we creating in each of our contexts for those who live there?

    Thanks, Bud. Thanks, Chris. And, thanks to those who will attend this weekend.
    .-= Laura Deisley´s last blog ..Teaching through Technology: Frivolous or Fundamental =-.

  8. I always thought that when you saw somone doing something extrodianary you should stop and thing, “hmm that’s cool I wonder how we could recreatate something similar in our school” I certainly wouldn’t want it to be exactly the same because then it wouldn’t be mine and I wouldn’t be able to call my mom and tell to look at all the cool things I could do.
    .-= Brendan Murphy´s last blog ..Back to Education =-.

  9. For me I’m very quick to jump to the “what does this mean for me and my situation” thinking? After all, that’s why we’re here. While we’ll all certainly enjoy the good people and conversation, we’re here to learn.

    That said, I think it’s also wonderful to be able to simply enjoy the energy and specialness of the school. Simply seeing joyful learners, caring teachers in very dense, close quarters is very cool. I’ll do my share of analyzing and constructing but celebrating the successes of others, just like you’d do the same for your friends children, it’s good to do.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my few hours on Thursday before the other attendees arrived. I count that as a real treat.

    1. I find any time spent in good classrooms to be useful and a real pleasure. And I hope everyone is quick to jump to thoughtful considerations of the question you’re asking. But I also see lots of excuses and missteps and inaction. I’m not a fan of the pained lament. Doesn’t help.

  10. A week later, I’m still reflecting on my SLA experience. I definitely echo Dean’s sentiment that “seeing joyful learners, caring teachers in very dense, close quarters is very cool.”

    This was my first EduCon experience and also my first observation of a 1×1 laptop school – and of a charter school within a public school system. It was easy to see the connection between the students’ ownership of learning and their supportive, technology-enhanced learning environment. (Although I didn’t see much interactive use of the SmartBoards;)

    So, yes, I left with thoughts of how to “imitate” the SLA model in my own district…but also with concerns about how to build on the charter school movement without sucking dry our “regular” public schools.
    .-= Gail Desler´s last blog ..Reading by Numbers – One last AR rant =-.

  11. I have come back to this thread to see how the comments rolled and to put the EduCon effect in a different perspective. I teach kindergarten children and what I notice about the often intense teaching/learning experience is:
    1. every year brings new personalities to the classroom and thus new angles to view the world of learning
    2. every interaction between teacher and student is personalized
    3. every student needs to learn WHY something is and not simply THAT it is
    4. every child needs to recognize their own growth
    5. every student needs to be encouraged to do their very best
    We’ll not become a 1-1 laptop school in the foreseeable future but having high expectations for student performance translates into our own success. I like having success as a goal. SLA views learning with high expectations for student performance and therefore they get it.
    .-= Gail Poulin´s last blog ..News February 5, 2010 =-.

  12. Well said, Bud. I especially like your comment that “Good schools are about people honestly and intentionally working together very purposefully.”

    We are working on changing the Mission/Vision of our district. The term intentional and deliberate keep coming up. In order to make change, we need to be able to have tough, respectful conversations and be able to move on even though we may have differences on opinions.

    If we keep our discussions kid-centered and student focused, we can’t go wrong.

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