Have you ever been passionate about something and gotten caught up in a great conversation about the topic? This happens quite often to me in my position as the principal of NSE. I often find myself having some great conversations about the things that students are doing in our school. I could go on and on when caught up in a conversation about the design center. I could talk for days about the great experiences that students have when they are on the NSE Today Show. I could share story after story about teachers who are creating environments that are inspiring students to want to come to school, learn, and then go home and do it some more.
Vollmer states that, "Properly executed, The Great Conversation informs, inspires, and invigorates all who choose to participate." He goes on to say that, "The best interest of our children, our communities, and our country demand that we move as fast as we can to create schools that maximize student success."
Are you comfortable with the results that our schools are producing? If not, then we must change what we are doing and how we do it.
I enjoy playing tennis. When I was competitive, I knew that if I wanted to get better I had to change or improve what I was doing. As I got older, the strategies and techniques changed. Education is no different. We must change what we are doing in order to get better. If we practice the same old way, we will perform the same old way. Think about it. Arthur Ashe was a great tennis player in his time. However, with new equipment and better training expertise, players today (Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer) are playing tennis in a much different way. What if they practiced and played the way Arthur Ashe played? Would they be performing at the levels they are today? Probably not.
I also remember that it was hard work, frustrating, and scary trying to change my swing or practice a new shot. I could do it during practice, but when it came to match time I resorted back to my old ways. Next thing you know, I am getting the same results. Perfecting a new technique took commitment and persistence in order to make it effective in a match. In the same way, we must commit to our new way of engaging students, in school and it does not include memorizing and recalling information. It requires creating, collaborating, and communicating through meaningful and purposeful projects, presentations, and publications. Being able to do these things will cause our boys and girls to be successful in the real world.