John’s Message for the Start of School

Last night I didn’t sleep too well. I was nervous. And I typically don’t get nervous. But I was asked to “keynote” our school division convocation this year and this morning that took place.

I was told about the event less than 2 weeks ago, so I haven’t had a lot of time to prepare. I wanted things to go well. I was asked to speak about why we do twenty-first century skills projects in Goochland. And my response was a presentation entitled Our Customers, Our Students: Beyond the Wall of NCLB.

In addition, we had our third year of recognizing teachers for their G21 projects, called the G21 Faire. It was awesome to be able to welcome to our stage teachers for three awards. But at the end of the day, it was my talk that lingers in my mind.

In starting one of our fall leadership books, I’m wondering which way to look at leadership in this task I was asked to complete. I’m also wondering how it was received by teachers. But today at the University of Richmond, well-known professor Dr. Howard Gardner spoke and a teacher asked the question: “What you’re suggesting goes beyond what our normal focus is, which in Virginia, are the SOL. How do we reconcile your ideas with the pragmatics of covering fact-based standards?”

Gardner suggested that as professionals, we ought to look beyond the standards. “We know education is so much more than that…” He suggested educators look beyond the standards and aim higher.

This same advice is what I’d say to a teacher who questions why we might focus as a division on these so-called “21st century” skills. But the test of my own leadership is how effectively I set the stage. If you’re interested in viewing my PDF, the password is convocation. Please do not re-distribute the presentation. Thanks!

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