Feel like a challenge? Want a GREAT professional development opportunity? Sure, your school work is FULL of challenges; why take on one more? Well, because that is what we do!
If you have followed this blog you will have read about Eric Juli and Design Lab School in Cleveland. It is an inner city choice school serving the neediest student body I have ever seen in this country. He is tackling the toughest problems in education: creating an environment of learning where it never existed in the past. He is making remarkable strides but it is really tough.
Since I met him last year, Eric has been heads-down solving some of the really toughest problems: teachers who just did not show up for their jobs, students who don’t have clean clothes or enough to eat, fights in the hallways, building a culture of what “learning” means. He is making headway. A growing number of his students are expressing interest in college. Students are exposed to self-directed design challenges for the first time in their lives. They got new housing for the school that is better than the one floor of dilapidated classrooms at the corner of gang central.
Eric just started blogging again and is reaching out for advice and help. Follow his blog. Add your comments; you will see mine today. (What do you think about my idea that he becomes the formal Chief “I” Officer at his school?) Wrap him into your PLN. He is an incredible educator who could run a school or a district anywhere, but chooses this challenge. You will learn a lot from him. Most importantly, we will find out what you do at your school that is transferable to a needier population. If you are reading this, I can almost guarantee that your school is better off in most ways than his. You have ideas, pilots, processes that will help Eric’s school and students.
If I could wave a wand, we would all convene a face-to-face meeting once a month in Cleveland and do this work together. That is not going to happen. So follow Eric’s blog, comment, respond to others…and maybe somewhere down the road we will start a Google Hangout schedule to work on these problems together.
Your plate is full? I know it is. But this is why we are educators! Why try to help Eric think through his objectives? Because none of us have found the keys to effective education if those keys do not work, or cannot be translated to work, for the most needy of our students.