I want to come back to a topic I spoke of with all staff in the school district on opening day this past September – something I have labelled as West Vancouver’s 2020 Challenge.
While I know Karl Fisch’s Did You Know? slides are now well-dated (four years is an eternity in the digital age) and have been overused in the world of digital technology presentations, I thought a lot about one specific reference in Karl’s presentation; his reference to Great Britain. Here are the slides I used on opening day (the first four from Karl’s original PowerPoint, the second four my own):
We have a wonderful challenge – we are doing really well. It is something that over the last seven years has been framed around the work of Jim Collins‘ Good to Great. The focus has been built around several of Jim’s themes including getting the right people on the bus, then figuring out where to go, and attracting level 5 leaders, who are humble but driven to do what’s best for the school district.
As I take on the role of Superintendent, part of the challenge is to ensure we continue to flourish on the existing metrics of excellence (test scores, graduation rates, etc.) while also building capacity and readiness with the new skills (I hesitate to make a 21st century skills reference) that, by some in B.C., are being defined as the 8 Cs:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Creativity and innovation
- Collaboration, teamwork, and leadership
- Cross-cultural understanding
- Communications, information and media literacy
- Computing and ICT literacy
- Career and learning self-reliance
- Caring for personal health and planet earth
Our challenge is to create an urgency for change, while simultaneously reinforcing the confidence that comes from a district with a 98% graduation rate, and amazing scores on all internal and external measures.
One could make the case we should be the last community to embrace the personalized learning or 21st century learning agenda, since we have tremendous success on all the current measures. Our belief is just the opposite.
Our commitment is to be able to continue to flourish on all these levels while preparing our students for the rapidly changing world. We are finding it is not an either/or proposition. Students, teachers and schools embracing formative assessment, for example, are seeing greater ownership by students of their learning, and exceptional results on all the traditional success measures.
We need to make sure that in 2020 we are not still talking about how good we were in 2010. This is a huge challenge – and very exciting.