Monday, August 8, 2011

Seven Million Minutes

Everyone at RSCON3, it seems, was raving about the keynote by Salome Thomas-EL (Principal EL) and although I missed it because it was in the middle of the night here in Europe, I managed to catch it on the archives.  All through the keynote the importance of caring for and believing in students so that they could reach their potential was evident - and this was especially powerful given Principal EL's experience with children who have serious barriers to achieving their dreams such as poverty, violence, neglect and low expectations.  His message is that every child will learn, as long as we don't give up on them.

It's not possible in this blog post to cover everything that was said during the keynote (it seemed like every sentence was absolutely VITAL) or to express the passion with which it was delivered, but here are a few of the ideas I took away from it:

  • To be a catalyst for change you have to have a vision of what we do with the 7 million minutes we have students in our care from PK to Grade 12.  However a vision is not enough.  A vision without a plan is just a hallucination.  We cannot waste any time developing this plan - time is so important because we cannot wait even a day to make a difference in students' lives.  It's better to waste money than time - you can never get back time that is wasted.
  • Teachers have to participate in school communities:  there is no room for passengers on the ship, only crew.
  • Young people must believe in themselves and take responsibility for themselves and their learning.  And we must believe in them and help them become successful.  Self efficacy is about teaching students how to respond when they are not successful.  Failure is a part of life - students must learn to move on and become stronger.  Setbacks should be seen as temporary and students must believe that they can become successful when they work hard.
  • We reach students through great teachers who are supported by great principals.  If the teacher is not successful, the principal is not successful - both need to work together with the students.
  • Do not be afraid of conflict:  make tough decisions for the children and embrace conflict as the price of leadership.  Do not be concerned about being popular - be concerned about doing what is right for the students.
  • In education there are short-term gains and long-term gains.  A test is a very short-term thing in the life of a child.
  • If students are cared for and supported they will become successful.  When this happens be there to celebrate with them.
Photo Credit:  Chi ha tempo non aspetti tempo by NuageDeNuit AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works 

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