Last week, I had the honor of speaking at the Future Ready Superintendent Summit, organized by the Department of Education and hosted by the White House.
I have to confess: I only learned about the #FutureReady initiative when I received the invitation to speak. Admittedly, I’m not the target audience, but I felt a little sheepish about my ignorance, and I also wondered if I would be out of place at the event. Dr. Hite was present at the conference, but we’re hardly a city-wide model of technology integration. SLA has its laptop program, but that’s never been paid for by the district, always through our own fundraising. It felt a little duplicitous to get up and talk about device usage in my classroom when too many schools in Philadelphia (read: more than one) currently don’t have potable water.
But then, I dug into the pledge that attending superintendents signed that day. Here are some of the finer points:
- We work together to protect student privacy and to teach students to become responsible, engaged, and contributing digital citizens.
- Future Ready districts develop tools to support a robust infrastructure for managing and optimizing safe and effective use of technology, so students have opportunities to be active learners, creating and sharing content, not just consuming it.
- Future Ready districts strive to provide everyone with access to personalized learning opportunities and instructional experts that give teachers and leaders the individual support they need, when they need it.
I am for these things. Because they are straight-up good things — but also because points go beyond content standards or standardized exams. They recognize that at least some of the most important work that students and teachers are doing isn’t being assessed by our current systems — and that maybe they can’t be “assessed” at all, at least not by anything that we currently have in our toolkit.
The best thing about the day? I heard a bunch of superintendents bring up the exact same point throughout the day, including directly to Secretary Duncan, with loud applause in support, when they met with him that afternoon. I also heard them talk about how trust is a necessary component in embracing this initiative, between all stakeholders involved. How love matters. How learning should be a joy. Not (just) how many 3D printers their districts had.
I have given plenty of talks about the subtle, transformational power of technology when authentically integrated into the classroom. Here, I was seeing it — or, at least, the seeds of it — on a national level.
That was pretty cool.
(Also, turns out that, as one of the few non-superintendents in the room, I had a useful perspective to share, along with Ben, Rafranz, John, and others. Should have trusted Zac Chase on that one when he invited me.)