Monday, September 16, 2013

Schools should help students become...CONFIDENT

In reading Chris Lehmann’s blog reflecting back on his session at ISTE (, I liked the format and prompts he used to generate ideas and discussion, especially, “In 10 words or less, Schools should help students become…”

I used this prompt at a recent Grand Forks Public Schools Educational Enhancement Team (E.E.T.) meeting.  Membership on the team includes superintendent, assistant superintendent, curriculum, technology, and CTE directors, some building principals and teachers, parents, university representatives, and students.  The purpose of the E.E.T. is to:
  • Continuously improve the quality of the learning experiences for all student offered by the Grand Forks Public School District.
  • Ensure maintenance of high academic standards.
  • Provide feedback to the school district’s Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Professional Development Committee relative to its work.
  • Provide feedback to the AdvancEd District Committee relative to its work.
  • Read various educational research-based articles supplied by the E.E.T. chairperson and engage in subsequent conversation.
Technology was the agenda item for the most recent meeting.  So, I started with the prompt, “In 10 words or less…Schools should help students become…” As the members shared their answers with the group, here are some of the responses:
  • Ready to be productive and fulfill their dreams
  •  Ready to begin their next chapter after high school
  • Motivated, responsible, and independent learners who contribute positively to society
  • Well-educated citizens who are prepared for the world
  • Informed, engaged, critically-thinking citizens who seek opportunities for learning
  • Critical thinkers, collaborators, communicators, creators, career and college ready
  • Individually motivated and successful through learning

These were all excellent words and concepts that we strive for on a daily basis.  Continuing to move around the room, one member said succinctly, “college and career ready,” and made note that he answered in only 4 words.  Not to be outdone, another member followed, “successful in life,” and pointed out the three-word answer.  I wondered, would anyone have a more succinct answer?  The only student present at the meeting had yet to report.  Her answer: “confident,” a one-word answer.  What a great answer!  Schools should help students become CONFIDENT.  Confidence means and relates to so many things.  Confident to:
  • learn
  • ask questions
  • prepare for a future career
  • earn a post high school degree or training
  • be a positive citizen
  • participate in extra-curricular activities
  • work with other people
  • communicate with others
  • make a difference
  • think outside the box
  • challenge the status quo

Are we preparing students to do well on standardized tests and or we are preparing our students to be confident in all they do?  Are we still teaching students as we have done in the past or are we instilling confidence to dream big?  If all students leave Grand Forks Public Schools with confidence in their future, we know we have lived up to our mission of: “Providing an environment of educational excellence that engages all learners to develop their maximum potential for community and global success.”

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