Nov 07 2011
Occupy the Schoolyard: What Parents and Educators Would Like the Schools and Legislators to Know
Yesterday, I came back from New Orleans where I attended and presented at the National Association for Gifted Children’s 58th Annual Convention. It was another wonderful learning experience and a time to network with so many individuals involved with gifted education.
What I really enjoyed was the chance to hear the different perspectives of people from around the world who care very deeply about the education of all children. In talking with fellow educators and parents, it was clear that they would love to have their voices heard more clearly by school administrators and legislators. And they would like to see some changes take place in our schools now so that all children can benefit immediately from some very fundamental and research-driven changes.
Here’s just a sampling of some of the thoughts that were shared this past week at the conference:
1. Pay attention to implementing strategies and programs that reflect best practices and educational equality for all students. There is plenty of research and information that is available to help teachers identify and serve the unique learning needs of every child, including those who are gifted and twice-exceptional (gifted students with learning differences, including dyslexia, ADHD and sensory processing difficulties). Students need to have both access to and acceleration of the curriculum.
2. Put all of our children at the center of the learning equation by leveraging technology to provide personalized instruction which Karen Cator, U.S. National Director of Educational Technology, has indicated is essential if we are to transform teaching and learning.
3. Help parents and teachers to teach all children that learning takes effort over time and increases when children encouraged are to become self-directed and self-reliant. Once our children are given more choice to follow their passions and their interests, their motivation to learn will increase and they will be able to advance towards their true potential.
4. Please provide effective professional development opportunities so teachers can deliver 21st Century teaching and what ed tech blogger David Warlick describes as “irresistible, relevant and rigorous learning experiences” to all students.
5. Make equitable educational funding a priority and understand that educating all of our children is essential for a strong economy, national security and maintaining a position of global influence in world affairs.
6. Encourage parents to get involved in advocating for educational change in a way that demonstrates positive communication skills, including assertiveness (clear and respectful language), self-control and empathy. As school administrators and legislators, model these characteristics to your customers, the parents, and constituents. Let’s all take the high road and show our children that civility in a society always matters.
Just like the people around the world participating in the Occupy movement, parents and educators everywhere are beginning to get rather weary of waiting for change to happen in our schools. They are ready to speak up. They are ready to Occupy the Schoolyard to respectively, collectively and persistently make their voices heard.
If you are one of those voices, contact your schools and your legislators and let them know what you are thinking. Most importantly, be sure to register and vote in the 2012 election. By getting involved and voting in 2012, you can send your state and national legislators and leaders the clear message that making the education of our children a priority has never been more important.