About this site

I was a Governing Board Member of the San Carlos School District, elected November 2007 and again in November 2011. This site was originally used for the purpose of communicating with school district constituents, however now it is used for surfacing ideas and expressing opinions on various subjects in education, politics, business, or otherwise.

Please note that any opinion express here is purely personal and does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of anyone else or any organization with which I am, or have been, associated.

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October 2012
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Big Step in Strategic Planning

Last night’s board meeting was an unusually formatted one — it was a workshop bringing together all of the work done to date on our strategic plan. This has been a process that kicked off in the summer of 2011, and most of last school year was devoted to community meetings as well as many board meetings, school site meetings, and staff meetings about defining exactly where the district should be heading and the meaning of 21st Century Learning in San Carlos.

This past summer, the school board had a retreat where we went through a series of discussions and analyses to come up with our top goals and targets over the next 5-10 years. Since then, there have been two more strategic planning meetings using the same framework for discussion — one meeting among the administrative team and one among members of the broader staff of teachers and other district employees. None of the groups had any visibility into what the others had come up with until we brought them all together at the meeting last night.

All of the worksheets from each of the three meetings were hung up on the walls for us all to peruse and discuss. (Note that the attachments online were just the summaries of the targets). The first thing that almost everyone noticed was how remarkably similar they were. Often there is this construct in public education that there is this tension between the school board and teachers or between administrators and teachers, and of course there are disagreements sometime. But last night demonstrated that in looking at the big picture, everyone is really on the same page on how we want to re-shape education for our kids.

Naturally, the board’s targets and taxonomy was a level of abstraction above the administrators and staff, whereas those groups got into more specific detail on implementation strategies. And we all agreed that it’s difficult to categorize all these thoughts in a simple way, as there is so much overlap among many of these ideas — it’s a multidimensional Venn diagram of sorts. But a few key themes emerged:

  • Promoting global citizenship, well-rounded, “whole child” social/emotional learners
  • Emphasizing professional development for educators, giving more time collaboration and innovation, and having more educators in leadership roles
  • Creating a “boundless” learning environment that breaks down the virtual and physical walls of the school — creating flexible learning spaces, flexible time to learn, and making education more relevant and personalized
  • Better engaging with (and educating) the community as well as expanding our pool of educational resources out into the community (both locally and globally)
  • Creating an environment of continual improvement and innovation
  • Having the technology infrastructure and making sure technology is embedded in all of the initiatives above

The next steps is for a steering committee to digest all of this input and start building the actual draft of the strategic plan. The goal is to have a first draft by the end of the calendar year so the board can review in January. Then we will look to have the strategic plan completed by the end of the school year. There was a ton of energy and optimism in the room with folks ready to take on the hard work of actually trying to implement much of this. And make no mistake, some of it will be really hard — it may involve changing decades-old practices and doing this in the context of continued fiscal and regulatory constraints. And some will naturally resist change. But this was a great step and demonstrates that our community is up for the challenge.

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