Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why I'm Doing What I'm Doing

Dear Teachers,

I'm now in the fourth class of my grad program. The previous class was "Disruptive Innovation in Education," and it was in that class that I put together my 50,000 foot plan for Improving Digital Literacy through Student Created Content. The current class is "Leading Organizational Change," and I have really struggled with the first assignment, "What's Your Why?" We have been reading (and reading, and reading, and reading) about how to be an Influencer, and what motivates us, and the Four Disciplines of Execution. What I've gotten out of it all so far is a feeling of being completely overwhelmed, and the nagging anxiety that there are still so many unknowns!

For our first assignment in the current class, we have to create Why, How, and What statements. The "Why" is the important one, because it gets down to the real purpose of our respective projects; the "why" appeals to people's hearts and guts, rather than just their rational minds. The example that is used over and over is that of Apple: their "Why" is clearly articulated: "Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo; we believe in thinking differently." They make one kind of phone (as opposed to non-Apple companies, that might make 30 or 40 types of phones) and focus on doing that better and different than anyone else. Their "why,", we're learning, appeals to people's guts, not just their minds, and that (coupled with their great products) is why Apple is so successful.

For my why, how, and what statements, I decided to take a look at our superintendent's Operational Expectations for student learning; I know I need to tie any initiative back to the district's goals. These expectations were  outlined for us shortly after our superintendent began his superintending last year, and they are:
Operational Expectations for Student Learning
1.1 Maintain high expectations for all students through creative and effective instructional delivery, rigorous learning outcomes and a focus on eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps
1.2 Foster student acquisition of 21st century skills
1.3 Provide quality, diverse programming that maximizes choice and provides students with a personalized, well-rounded education
1.4 Focus on responsible citizenship by developing and recognizing character traits of integrity, ethics and service and a strong appreciation for all cultures
With these four operational expectations in mind, I created my Why statement:
We believe that digital literacy is a crucial component of a student's success as a lifelong learner.
My How looks like this:
Students are actively encouraged to share their own knowledge and learn from each other.
And my What is:
We provide opportunities for all students to contribute to a digital culture of sharing resources and learning from one another, encouraging them to become full participants in a digital and global world.

This is an assignment where I really wish I had a better graphic arts background; it seems like a stunning visual of some kind would be really helpful. Perhaps I can get my artist son to help me with that on another assignment. Alas, I don't have those skills myself.

I'm hoping these statements speak to teachers' hearts; I know that I have heard from quite a few of you that you, too, recognize the huge disservice we are doing to students when we don't spend the time helping them achieve the skills and strategies necessary for digital literacy. Aligning these statements with what teachers likely already hold dear, and with what our superintendent has expressly stated are the expectations of our organization, will hopefully propel my vision forward. Another blog post is on the way with some additional ideas on how we are actually going to get it off the ground, and I'm so excited to see how it will progress!

We've gotta get going on this one, people. Are you with me? I'd love your feedback on my why, how, and what statements in the Comments section, should you be so inclined. If you're in my district and would like to participate in creating better digital literacy in all our students, please fill out this form. (Thanks to those of you who already have done so - I'll be in touch soon!)



(2015). Free illustration: Question, Why, Question Mark, Ask - Free ... - Pixabay. Retrieved July 19, 2016, from


  1. Remember for each "way it can go wrong" there is equally likely a "way it can go right" !

    Isn't just "current and applicable literacy" in itself what students and all of us need to continuously evolve? Digital will not be the last "literacy". Imagine the next . . . .?

    Checkout SketchNoting and create you own. Art is only an intimidating when the mind no longer functions. It is the essence of all art. Created and perceived. Hence, "WPS" ( white paper syndrome ). Book: Dot Sometime "stunning" over shadows, blur s or even conceals the message or content.

    I look forward to further writings and development. More specifically s on the concepts in red. The real " how " of each.

  2. I am intrigued by the title of your last class... "Disruptive Innovation in Education." I am just imagining what a great class it must have been.
    Your thoughtfulness in this process is apparent. The "Why" statement is clear and powerful. It also made me stop and ponder its truth.
    I would love to hear more about the "How" statement. I really do not know about this vision of yours, and I look forward to learning more about it as it unfolds.
    Congratulations on your thoughts expressed and your work toward these goals. And thanks, as always, for challenging my thinking and practice!

  3. After our meeting last week, I found myself constantly digging deeper and deeper into all the details related to the actually implementation of the plan that I lost the big picture. I really appreciate the simplicity and clarity that are evident in your three statements of why, how and what. Not that the idea is simple, but that the ultimate goal is straightforward and clear, something I need to be reminded of when I get too focused on the nitty gritty. I can't wait to see how things move forward from here!!