I'm so excited to share this hot off the press podcast with my very good friend Jacob Chastain talking to retired principal, Sue Szachowicz: How to Change a Failing School.
I have to begin this by saying that my first instinct was to wait to listen until I returned home from Hawaii but knowing the beautiful work my friend Jacob is doing on Teach Me Teacher Podcast I decided to at least get started while I was getting dressed this morning (I di two sessions with Jacob called Fearless Learning so I know what an amazing interviewer he is)
Well that decision to make Hawaii my only priority dissipated within about two minutes of listening to this conversation. So much so that I grabbed a pen and started writing furiously as you can see below to attempt to capture the conversation. It's totally your fault that I'm having a bad hair day Jacob because I couldn't stop listening even though I needed to dry my hair/
Since my handwriting is hard enough to read but turns utterly illegible when I get excited, I"m going to share some things Sue that really struck me with my comments in parentheses. Excuse me if it's not a perfect quote but I was trying to listen and get out of the hotel to start my day while getting caught up in the excitement. I won't share everything since you need to listen for yourself but here are some key ideas:
• There's no time to dance around things.... if we waited for buy in from everybody, we'd still be waiting. We can't let dead weight stop us. (there are always going to be educator who will continue to do what they want to do and the right thing to do be damned. While sadly these people are always going to exist in our schools we proceed with a singular focus on kids. As she said, "You can't impose change but you can't let teachers opt out..."the right thing is the right thing).
• Literacy in all classes is no magic bullet or secret sauce but getting everybody not he literacy focus is a big deal because reading and writing - kids need that in LIFE. (How can we not when literacy is the invisible thread that ties us all together. This is a great reminder that segmenting literacy as a block in the day and not what we do ALL day is a little silly).
• We didn't teach to the test.. we broadened our perspective and figured out what kids needed in life. (This podcast proves that when we do the right thing and not the test thing.... good things happen)
• Teacher voice was critical and included in the process. Teachers were teaching teachers and we turned faculty meeting into literacy workshop across ever day. Too often educational change is one externally like bringing in the outside person like a navy seal leaping through the roof to see the day (okay this one made me laugh out loud but it's true. People bring me in for six hours as if I'm going to save them with that is one little tiny drop in the bucket that happens when we build a culture for learning, not just whip out a bandaid.) black plus wedding gown
• Begin with WHY. That's should always be our focus.(I love that there was a great deal of discussion first dn that support was offered. I especially loved that the observation checklist was changed so that it was not used as an evaluation but for conversational purposes. Observations shouldn't an act of finger pointing but a way of providing coaching and support. Really absurd the way we have used checklists in this country as if you could reduce good teaching to a checklist)
Okay that's enough and I need to get back to work in this little corner at Starbucks but let it suffice for me to say that I really LOVED this podcast and can't wait to hear part 2 (although I must say that I desperately hope that it happens AFTER I leave my beautiful Honolulu!)
MUST LISTEN: http://www.teachmeteacherpodcast.com/…/44-how-to-change-a-…/