Another occasional re-post that continues to be relevant today - From July, 2006...
The following excerpt from yesterday's Dallas Morning News Viewpoints section contains a profound insight into the challenges faced by many in our community in attempting to achieve the American Dream...
On Sunday, The Washington Post ran an extensive poll delving into the experiences of black men and their attitudes toward themselves, as well as other Americans' attitudes toward them. Here, two employees of the Dallas-based Foundation for Community Empowerment – an African-American man and a white woman – mull the implications of the sometimes surprising findings on this highly charged subject.
Victoria Loe Hicks: So, Marcus, what jumped out for you in the poll? For me it was that black men are their own toughest critics. For instance, a majority of all respondents said that black men are too focused on sports and sex and not focused enough on getting a good education, but black men were much stronger in those critiques than black women, white men or white women. Of course, no one knows us as well as we know ourselves.
Marcus Martin: I think what surprised me most is how many black men have internalized the obstacles and hardships that many black men across America face. They blame themselves, just as others blame them, for not overcoming those obstacles and hardships.
Hicks: So what I interpreted as self-awareness, you interpret as something more like internalized oppression?
Martin: Exactly. And part of this, I believe, is rooted in the way we measure whether a person has achieved the American dream – typically, we look only at the end result. I believe that is a flawed measure.
Hicks: But what is there to measure, other than the end result?
Martin: Well, I as a black man and you as a white woman have the same goals: a good education, good job, nice home, etc. However, because of my starting place – poverty, single-parent home, racism, etc. – I have 50 obstacles to overcome, where you have five. You manage to overcome those five and achieve the dream. I manage to overcome 30, but if the other 20 leave me by the wayside, society is ready to tell me I did not try hard enough. The African-American single mother who manages to get her three kids to graduate from high school has been just as successful as the upper-middle-class family that managed to get their three kids through Harvard – although society won't agree.
There is a lot to think about in this short excerpt, but a couple of thoughts come immediately to mind:
First, starting place, while not the only factor, is one of the most significant factors in determining one's opportunity to achieve "success".
Second, we need to reconsider our definition of success, and remember what is truly important in life.
Another occasional re-post that continues to be relevant today. According to the latest USDA report, 14.3% of Texas households (one in seven) experienced food insecurity in the years 2014-2016. Texas was one of just fifteen states with higher food insecurity than the nation during this period. In raw numbers, 1.4 million Texas households were food insecure, more than almost any other state.
For the sake of context, I had my knee scoped in August, 2006...
One of the benefits to sitting with my leg propped up is that I have time to get caught up on some reading. One of the drawbacks to getting caught up on some reading is that the content can be troublesome. One of my catch-up books is Loretta Schwartz-Nobel's Growing Up Empty - this month's selection for the Urban Engagement Book Club.
Growing Up Empty is a series of stories of people in America who face hunger on a daily basis. The author tells their stories in their own words - from the wife of the doctor who left her and 3 children for another woman to the soldier's family living in military housing to the janitor working for minimum wage - These are the stories of people who cannot afford to feed themselves and their dependents.
Some fast facts about hunger (from the Center on Poverty and Hunger - Brandeis University)
Food insecurity occurs whenever the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways, is limited or uncertain. As we talk about politics, education, or religion, somehow feeding the hungry must be a part of that conversation. "For as you have done to the least of these, so have you done to me also."
I recently submitted my portfolio to complete ISTE's Educator Certification course. One of the components of that submission, a reflection on how the ISTE Standards have impacted our work, was an opportunity for a walk down memory lane...
ISTE Standards - Looking Back
The ISTE Standards have supported both my work and the work of my team in influencing and supporting educators throughout this past decade. I begin by setting some context to illustrate how the standards have supported our work and to describe how the work has changed. I first became familiar with the NETS, as they were called then, in 2009. At that time we were partnering with Alan November to design and implement our Future is Now initiative, and the NETS-s related very well to our efforts to shift mindsets and change practice. This description of the Future is Now was shared in 2010 with the other 19 Education Service Centers in Texas:
The Future is Now Classroom:
The Future is Now had a transformative impact on the participating campuses – teacher attitudes and practices, student levels of engagement and ownership of learning, technical staff willingness to open firewalls and support BYOD – feedback was quite positive.
The Future is Now was heavily influenced by the NETS and represented at least three significant shifts in the way we delivered professional development. First was a shift in focus related to technology. Until that time we had primarily provided training on applications, with some training on how to apply the technology to the classroom. With the Future is Now we began focusing on a variety of web-based tools addressing specific purposes - collaboration, research, creation, and communication.
The second shift was the inclusion of students as co-learners along with their teachers in the professional development sessions. Being introduced to the same tools and concepts as their teachers helped the students hold their teachers accountable to implement what they had learned, and helped teachers realize they did not have to be the experts in everything - they had students for support. More importantly it allowed the teachers to model the role of learner.
The third shift was to an extended model of PD with a significant coaching element. Much of the professional development we delivered prior to this project was of the ‘one and done’ nature, with little or no follow up. The Future is Now was a commitment for the school year, with three separate days of training followed and supported by individual coaching, and culminating in collaborative student projects that were presented at a showcase event.
After the second year we determined that while the program as designed was effective, it was not easily scalable in a region with nearly 1000 campuses. Our focus shifted from a direct delivery model to one of capacity building as we began designing the Digital Fluency Academy. The standards are evident in the components of the Digital Fluency Academy as seen in this description from our 2012 catalog:
Digital Fluency Academy – 30 Hours
Since that time there have been more than 450 graduates of the Digital Fluency Academy. A couple of shifts that evolved over that time are that we began looking at tools not only from the perspective of how well they addressed specific needs or purposes, but how well they contributed to learning. A second shift is that Digital Citizenship is no longer a stand-alone “teach piece.” It is modeled and infused within the entire DFA.
ISTE Standards Today
The release of the updated Standards for Students coincided with the beginning of a research project conducted by our R&D staff to examine the effectiveness of the Digital Fluency Academy. Among the findings of the research were that as a result of participation in the academy there was a statistically significant increase in the use of technology in the classroom by participants, there was statistically significant growth in the levels of the use of technology as measured against the SAMR Framework, and that 90% of the participants reported sharing their learning with others.
This past summer we began a redesign process to refresh the DFA and to intentionally align the content with the new Standards for Educators. Following are the objectives for participants in the resulting Digital Fluency Institute:
~ Experience the types of learning that should happen in the classroom
~ Learn to explore and apply strategies that leverage technology for learning
~ Share your learning and contribute to the advancement of innovation in education
~ Reflect as part of the learning process in a variety of media
~ Design experiences that promote ownership of learning for yourself and others
~ Advocate for a culture of collaboration, continuous learning, and positive contributions
In addition to aligning the Digital Fluency Institute with the standards, we promote awareness and integration of the standards with our various constituencies, including superintendents, district administrators, and all the educators in our professional learning networks. The standards have not resulted in a sudden change in our own practice because they have been embedded into it for some time. They have validated what we have been doing, and provide a continuing focus for moving forward.
My goal is to continue to model and promote the use of technology to enhance, extend, and amplify learning. The context of life and learning is an increasingly digital environment. I believe that our operational definition of digital fluency as “the aptitude to effectively and ethically interpret information, discover meaning, design content, construct knowledge, and communicate ideas in a digitally connected world” remains valid and is in alignment with the standards. Digital fluency for all learners continues to be an aspirational goal.
On a personal note, my oldest grandson began kindergarten this year. I have a highly personal interest in working to see that his class - the class of 2030 - and all of the preceding classes between now and then produce graduates who know how to think critically, whose curiosity is stimulated, who have the creative and collaborative skills needed to adapt to a continually changing world, and who have the character to make it a better place. I believe the ISTE Standards support that vision, and I am fortunate to work with a team that has the skills and the desire to help bring it to fruition.
Another occasional re-post. In spite of our location in proximity to fast growing communities and increasingly expensive housing the regional percentage of students considered economically disadvantaged remains constant at approximately 60%. Our Teaching and Learning group offers a Poverty Simulation to help develop empathy and understanding of the conditions many of our students and their families experience. The excerpt below that I originally posted in 2006 is one compelling example.
For the past several months I have been participating in the Urban Engagment Book Club. This month's book is A Betrayal of Work by Beth Shulman. Below is an excerpt....
For generations, Americans shared a tacit understanding that if you worked hard, you could earn a livable income and provide basic security for yourself and your family. That promise has been broken. More than 30 million Americans--one in four workers--are stuck in low-wage jobs that do not provide the basics for a decent life.....
Cynthia Porter works full time as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home in Marion, Alabama. When she comes on duty at 11 pm, she makes rounds, checking the residents for skin tears and helping them go to the toilet or use a bedpan. She has to make sure she turns the bedridden every two hours, or they will get bedsores. And if bedsores are left unattended, she tells me, they can get so bad you can put your fist in them. But there aren't enough people on her shift. Often only two nursing assistants are on duty to take care of forty-five residents. And Cynthia must also wash the wheelchairs, clean up the dining rooms, mop the floors and scrub out the refrigerator, drawers and closets during her shift. Before she leaves, she helps the residents get dressed for breakfast.
For all this, Cynthia makes $350 every two weeks. She is separated from her husband, who gives her no child support. The first two weeks each month she pays her $150 rent. The next two weeks, she pays her water and her electric bills. It is difficult to afford Clorox or shampoo. Insuring that her children are fed properly is a stretch. She is still paying off the bicycles she bought for them last Christmas.
She can't afford a car, so she pays someone to drive her the twenty-five miles to work. There have been a few days when she couldn't find a ride. "I walked at 12 o'clock at night," she said. "I'd rather walk and be a little late than call in. I'd rather make the effort. I couldn't just sit here. I don't want to miss a day--otherwise, I might be fired." No public transportation is available that could take her all the way to work.
Cynthia lives with her three children in a small maroon-colored shack. It is miles from a main road. Inside, the plywood floor is so thin and worn that the ground can be seen below. In the next room, a toilet sinks into the floor. There is no phone. A broken heater sits against the wall; the landlord refuses to fix it.
Keeping her children's clothes clean requires great effort because Cynthia has no washing machine. Instead, she fills her bathtub halfway and gets on her hands and knees to scrub the clothes. Then she hangs them out to dry.
Despite the frustration and the difficult conditions, Cynthia beams when she talks about her job. "I like helping people," she says. "I like talking with them, and shampooing their hair. I like old people. If they are down, I can really make them feel better. The patients say, 'Nobody loves me or comes to see me.' Sometimes I help the residents play dominoes. Sometimes their hands shake, but I hold them. It's a lot of fun for them. I tell them 'I love you,' and give them a hug. I like being a CNA. I'm doing what I want to be doing."
Shameless plug - registration and the call for presenters is now open for our 25th Annual Technology Conference.
As I think back to that first conference 25 years ago, I can still remember having each participant grasp long strings of yarn to introduce the radically innovative concept of being connected to a network. There was this brand new thing called the World Wide Web and something called Mosaic would soon make its debut as the first graphical browser.
Just as it was difficult then to imagine the changes that the world would see over the next 25 years, it is not possible to know what the next 25 years will bring. I do feel fairly safe in predicting that the amount of information and the rate of digitalization will only increase. As @jcasap pointed out this past week at the TASA Midwinter Conference, that brand new iPhone X is the oldest technology my grandchildren will ever know.
Another important point Jaime made was that the education system is not broken - it worked for the thousands of administrators in the room, and it was his own personal vehicle out of poverty. What has changed, and continues to change is the digitalization of the context in which education takes place. Organizations like ISTE and movements such as Future Ready Schools and Education Reimagined provide powerful frameworks for the systemic changes needed to adapt to the changing context.
It's also important to remember that the future is not some nebulous time that will eventually come - it is here. right. now. @lgracey does a presentation called The Future is Now - she will be presenting it this week at #TCEA19 - where she emphasizes that many of the technological and societal changes we think of as futuristic are already here - we can't afford to wait to begin preparing learners.
Within each of our circles of influence - classroom, campus, PLN, whatever spheres we work in - we must do what we can to develop the capacities of the learners we influence to adapt to a future that is already here.