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What can this mean on the ground

Page history last edited by Michael J 12 years, 8 months ago



Thinking space for

Fixing High School at the Bottom of the Pyramid pt2.

Back to Part 1


The reality on the ground

The following is based on limited direct experience. While it is suggestive of an approach across a number of schools, there is no pretense that it applies in every stituation.


Some observations

There are many pockets of excellence in a Bottom of the Pyramid High School. Dedicated teachers and innovative practices do exist. But in the absence of a vibrant communication system, it is very difficult to spread the lessons of the hard won victories to make the institution "smarter".


Teachers seem to share the feeling that the mark of success is the number of students who pass a Regents exam or graduate. Given that this is the easiest metric to gather and the common public wisdom is that test score results are the mark of a successful school, teachers assume that is how their performance is judged.


It is relatively difficult to have a relaxed, but focused,  professional collaborative discussion of real problem solving.

The teachers day is overcrowded with tasks that could be handled with even a moderately more efficient communication infrastructure. Teachers, for example, are expected to call student who are absent. Given that on any given day, up to 30 students could be absent that translates into 30 phone calls, keeping track of who was called, who was reached, and the discussion if any.  To make matters a little more complicated up to 40% of the phone numbers on record could be incorrect. 


Common planning times, while carving out times from the teacher's day, are not optimized to listen and collaborate. They are used on a more ad hoc basis to deal with common problems that have to be solved, or to transfer information that could be more effectively transferred in other forms.


Possible interventions

One way to think about the strategy is to introduce tools that allow the time shifting of "thinking time."


The first attempt was guided by harnessing the power of a website to create a "go-to" place for exposure to information. The first inerations were based on making  useful (in my opinion) information accessible. As of this writing that has not yielded the kind of voluntary participation that is needed.  Although it has started to build trust among a very small group of evagenlists, it required lots of effort to manage the conversations necessary to engage even them. 


Either what I considered "useful information" was not seen that way from the ground. Or accessible information is not enough.

What we have learned is that it has not delivered the desired changes in behavior.


Confronted with the sub optimal results, we are trying a second approach.  Using the new tools of videos, especially the functionality at Fora.tv and pb2wiki.com, we are trying to reframe the website as a video channel. With the added functionality of surveymonkey, there is what should be easy to use pathways for the viewers to "add their two cents." The results are not yet in, as of December 2.  As more evidence is amassed this page will be updated. A couple of hours after this framing, I got my first gchat from one of the more active teachers in the school.  This is a hopeful sign.


To see what this looks like from the school community point of view, see the SideBar at  www.HighSchoolPubCenter.com




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