Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Instructional Development: Doing it right!

Yes, I know the court hearing is tomorrow.  We had a great presentation last night, though, and I wanted to share some of it with you all. 

I once famously told an LASD Board member that LASD didn't offer a "world class education".  So she challenged me to do something about it, and here I am.  Serving on a school board isn't supposed to be all about litigation- it is supposed to be about finding ways to improve the program we offer to our students.  I'm very pleased to say that we are fulfilling that mission.

For students, summers are spent at camps, hanging out with friends, and visiting family.  Frankly, I'm pretty sure that if you asked 20 people in the street what teachers do over the summer, you'd get the same answer- hanging out, resting, etc.  This summer, our teachers have engaged in a tremendous amount of training.  Some of them never really took a break at all, but they are all looking forward to putting that training to use in teaching our children.

Last night at the Board meeting, Asst. Superintendent Gallagher detailed the extensive set of workshops and courses our teachers attended this summer.  Members of our staff were selected to attend workshops hosted by the Stanford d. School, the Nueva Design Institute, and the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference.  We also then hosted numerous workshops, where teachers shared what they'd learned at these conferences, as well as developed plans for the coming year, including the adoption of the Common Core Standards, Transitional Kindergarten, and iLearn, our in-house technology integration workshop.

I'm also excited about some of the new positions we've filled, including an Innovation Coach, our STEM Coach, and our Technology Coach.  I do not know of another district that is our size that is investing this heavily in professional development.

A special nod to our friends over at Google.  Not only did they host a Google Apps workshop that drew quite a number of our teachers (on their own time), but a member of their Education Team also helped facilitate our iLearn workshops.  Perhaps most generously, they also donated hundreds of ChromeBooks to the District.  Given the extremely high cost of Apple notebooks, this is a great way to help us deliver technology-based instruction to our students in a very different way.

I point all of this out, because I'm immensely proud of the work we are doing.  As the #1 school district in the State of California, it would be easy to leave things as they are.  Ms. Gallagher, though, has been leading the charge and challenging us to innovate.  They're hard at work setting up the metrics we need to measure the impact of these programs, and rolling them out to the students.

So this year, as you guide your young ones back into the classroom, take a moment to thank our staff for all the work they've been doing while our kids enjoyed their summer break.  The results this year promise to be very exciting!

Updated @1:45pm, 8/14/2012:  I forgot to mention that the District held 4 Innovation in Education events last year, and we are planning on 4 more this year.  During these events, we host educators from districts near and far (including attendees from as far away as Brazil and the UK).  These folks come to see what LASD is doing, and what makes our model so successful.  It is always nice to be recognized, but I'm especially proud of the way our staff is "walking the walk"- making it a core part of our mission not only to revolutionize learning for our students, but to share that knowledge with the rest of the education community.  Well done!