School Board Leaders Reflect on Essential Questions and 21st Century Learning

new mexico
new mexico

Last week, I did a 90 minute keynote at the New Mexico School Board Association’s Leader’s Retreat. I used a “Socratic approach” and framed my talk around a series of themes and sample questions in a talk called “What Questions Should School Boards Be Asking about 21st Century Learning?” For details on my keynote theme, essential questions and blog reader comments click here.

The school board leaders had some interesting responses to my evaluation that inspired me with their willingness to rethink the landscape of teaching and learning. Here are my three evaluation prompts and some of their responses: 

What did you find to be most valuable from today’s workshop? 

  • Changing the mind set of traditional thinking in schools.
  • Giving kids a chance to be thinking and problem solving on their own – that’s relevance.
  • Looking at rigorous and relevant thinking skills in action.
  • Innovative uses of technology in the classroom.
  • Simply having students follow a process is not relevant learning.
  • The importance of rigorous thought and the creative thinking process.
  • It’s not enough to simply use technology – it needs to be used to support rigorous thinking.
  • These are questions we need to be asking ourselves, daily.
  • A multimedia presentation, with a participatory focus on the big picture of learning.
  • I liked the questions for board members format – will be easier to report back to my colleagues.
  • Education will need to change to reflect the information age.
  • You used the techniques you were teaching, which was very helpful.
  •  Eye opening and Thought-provoking.

What was a frustration you had today?

  • Public schools have a multitude of mandates which tie our hands.
  • How will we measure problem solving and creative thinking in the context of NCLB testing mandates?
  • The process of applying technology for learning moves more slowly than the technology developments themselves.
  • Legislators don’t understand these concepts.
  • This talk is best directed at teachers and administrators. Boards don’t want to be perceived as micro-managing educational methods.
  • Would have liked to spend more time doing TurningPoint surveys.
  • This information has been around for along time and little has changed.
  • How do we provoke the state and their testing regiment to reflect on the need for higher level thinking and not regurgitating?
  • How do we get this information to our legislators in away that makes them think?

How will today’s workshop impact your school board planning?

  • I will use some of these questions in discussions with our superintendent.
  • Bring our planning into the 21st century.
  • We need to think more about relevant 21st century skill development.
  • I do process agenda for our board work retreats and I’m more aware that we need to hold ourselves to rigorous analysis of the products of our district.
  • We need to think more about the “how” than the “what” of instruction. 
  • It will help me to formulate questions to ask myself and the district – are we 21st C ready?
  • Your example of toddlers categorizing means we need to ask more about higher-level thinking at lower grade levels.
  • We will continue to collaborate and refine our goals.
  • Ask better questions – demand better answers. That includes of ourselves and our planning process.
  • We need to prepare our students for a future of thinking, creating, exploring and collaborating.
  • How do we get this approach throughout the system, so students are not penalized for learning outside the established system?
  • We need to re-think our educational model and priorities.

Image credit: flickr/ Wolfgang Staudt