In this month’s edition of Educational Leadership, author Marc Tucker looks at the impact that globalization, automation, and the improved skills of workers in other countries are having on the United States economy. Tucker’s piece, “Globally Ready or Not?” explains how the world has changed dramatically in the past 50 years. Businesses in the 1970s that did not adapt to the changing global climate went out of business. As one can imagine, the overall impact does not bode well for students that graduate without a “21st Century” skill set. Re-thinking education to produce students that are ready for the challenges of this new global society is a direction that we have felt for some time in Southeast Michigan and one that as a district, we have worked to address over the last 5+ years.
The article does offer some suggestions about what we, The Saline Area Schools, can do to help prepare students to compete in a global economy. Interestingly, the points that Tucker makes are consistent with the Strategic Framework and Learner Profile for Saline Area Schools. Here are a few of the points:
- Integrate academic and technical learning. Tucker notes, “The curriculum that students need must create a constant interplay between academics and application; problems that arise in the course of application give rise to the questions addressed in the academics, and the constructs learned in the academics are explored in application.”
- Focus on continuous, deep learning. Developing students that are lifelong learners and critical thinkers is essential. “Being able to analyze and synthesize will require students to know a lot about the material they’re analyzing and synthesizing.” says Tucker.
- Integrate academic and technical learning. Deep, well structured and authentic project-based learning experiences can help in this area. We need true projects that push our students, not just “activities”.
- Develop ethics. We need to think of ourselves as being responsible for the development of each student in a process owned by the entire staff. Students need to be able to do the right thing when nobody’s watching and experience leadership first-hand.
- Cultural competence. Saline graduates need to be able to work and interact effectively with people of all cultures. Cultural competence involves understanding and appropriately responding to the many nuances that define “culture,” including cultural variables—including ability, intellect, age, ethnicity, experience, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.
Students develop and hone these skills over time, meaning that educators, parents, and community members must adopt and value these attributes. Developing the best prepared, academically competent, technologically proficient, and globally astute workers will take a monumental effort from all of us; this generation will fill jobs that do not yet exist. What a fascinating time for all of us! Saline students will lead the way.
Saline Area School Community,
With the school year well underway, I would like to schedule the first “Community Conversation” meeting of the 2016-2017 school year. Over the last eight years I have had the opportunity to host several “Community Conversation” events to learn more about what interested community members see as the strengths of Saline Area Schools, and what areas they felt we needed to focus attention on for improvement. Through these conversations and other opportunities, I have learned a great deal about how many of you see our district and it has helped guide me, along with the Board of Education, as we move forward.
In an effort to continue this dialogue, I will be making time available on Thursday, December 8th from 9:15am- 11:00am at Carrigan’s Cafe, 107 S. Ann Arbor Street. Please stop by, say hello and bring any thoughts about the district you feel I should know.
If you can’t make it, feel free to use “Let’s Talk” and let me know your thoughts.
Earlier today, I had the chance to share my thoughts on the coming Thanksgiving holiday with the Saline Area Schools staff. Below is the message I shared…
This Thursday marks Thanksgiving and means Americans gather around the dinner table to celebrate and be thankful. It is simply an American holiday, where people across our nation gather with friends and family for festive food, fun and for some, football.
For many of us, it is a holiday ripe with tradition, starting with watching the parades in the morning, running in a Turkey Trot, or gathering our lists to start shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Giving Tuesday.
It is also a holiday full of reflection, and constant reminders as to why we are thankful. We are thankful for our family and friends, for our health and for our good fortune.
While I am personally thankful for the opportunity to serve as the Superintendent of the Saline Area Schools, I am truly grateful to represent 5,235 students along with hundreds of teachers, administrators, para-educators and support staff. Working with you every day reminds me about what makes our country great – it is that we are all dedicated to the pursuit of excellence by ensuring our children receive a quality education, reinforced by a great team and strong community around them.
I am also thankful for the parents of our students and to our entire community. Our district serves four extremely diverse communities. Each community has it own unique style, yet it is the Saline Area Schools that binds our communities together.
While I may be Superintendent of the district, I am also a member of this community. This is where I live, eat, shop and play. While I don’t expect to get invited to your Thanksgiving table this week, I do expect that as neighbors and friends, we will look after each other. That we will take time to get to know our neighbors, become more interested in the people around us and find ways to get engaged in the community.
- Now, more than ever, we need you to be present in your children’s lives. Ask them questions about what they are learning in school, who they are hanging out with, what they are watching or doing on their phones or computers. In this fast-paced world, it is essential for them to know that you are watching them and care about what they are doing.
- Now, more than ever, our children need role models. I hope you will become mentors and invite students onto your farm, into your factory, store or office.
- Now, more than ever, we need to stand up and speak out for one another, teach tolerance and acceptance. To learn about one another and respect each other for our own beliefs and traditions.
- Now, more than ever, we need to be a constant presence in our community. Think about volunteering in our schools, speak before a class, coach a team or give up a weekend or evening to support a local non-profit.
- Now, more than ever, our children need to feel safe. They need your support as parents, they need your care as a community and they need to know that they have people on their side.
With the last of the leaves changing, Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of the holiday season. For this nation and for our community, the holidays could not have come at a better time. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you will join me in thinking about what you are thankful for. As we beginning the season of giving, I am hopeful that we as a community will continue to thrive.
The season of giving is upon us and we have a lot to celebrate together.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving! & Go Hornets!
This week I had the opportunity to work with several administrators and teachers regarding how Saline Area Schools can continue to make progress in our efforts to improve. Basically, we were living our motto, “The Pursuit of Excellence” and we explored issues related to leadership, instructional models, modern curriculum, digital ecosystems, and professional learning.
When we were discussing leadership and the ability to change culture – we talked about how we actually like the culture of Saline Area Schools. How we are in a good place to focus on continuous improvement. I was struck by how this is a different conversation than when there is a crisis or a clear indication of under-performance. I was reminded about a conversation our administrative team had with Bob Quinn this summer, when he asked what is the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher?
This led me to a lecture from Ryan Quinn (Yes, Bob’s son), where he explores the findings of his research on “Learning from Success” and the potential negative impact success can have on an organization. Thankfully, he talks about how to avoid the negative.
Recently, Adobe asked 1000+ U.S. Gen Z students aged 11-17, and 400+ Gen Z teachers to tell us how they feel about learning, creativity and the future. Their findings were interesting. I can see alignment with our district focus that is represented in our Learner Profile.
Here is the full infographic that highlights their findings – Gen Z in the Classroom
A few tips:
- Prior to the parent/teacher conference, talk to your child to know your student’s teachers, classes and their perspective of the course(s). This allows the education discussion to begin at home and fosters the family and school partnership.
- To best utilize your time, prepare your prioritized questions for discussion.
- Arrive on time or a few minutes early.
- Take notes to allow you to review the conference with your child.
- Do not stay beyond your allotted time. Future conference opportunities can be discussed to continue important discussions.
From all sides, communication is the key to continued success and less stress. The more we can effectively communicate with each other, the greater the odds of helping the individual child maximize their entire Saline Area Schools educational experience.
In Saline, we are on a constant quest for the pursuit of excellence. As superintendent, I am grateful to have the privilege of working with a tremendous team of professionals who support our students, community and each other every day.
However, across the country and in our own backyard, there is a shortage of people that we rely on everyday to make the system work. This includes:
- Substitute teachers
- Bus drivers
- Food service workers
We are not immune to the national shortage of talented, qualified and committed individuals whom we need to work in our district and be a part of our success. So I am asking you, the Saline community, to help identify a few outstanding candidates, who are qualified and want to work in the community, supporting our students and our schools. Can you to identify your friends, family and neighbors, who may be looking for new employment opportunities and a chance to make a difference in a child’s life?
Individuals hired in the above-mentioned positions become Saline Area Schools employees, earn service credit toward a pension and, depending upon the number of hours worked, may also have access to other district benefits such as health care, dental, vision, and life insurance. Additionally, thanks to the bonds approved last fall, we have seen and will continue to see significant improvement to our district’s infrastructure, various facility upgrades and new buses, making for a fun, fresh and safe environment in which to work. Finally, our paraeducators, food service employees and bus drivers work almost exclusively on school days, making these positions ideal for parents of school age children.
We are also on a constant quest for qualified substitute teachers and substitute paraeducators. For more information about the qualification requirements as well as the employment arrangement please visit http://www.salineschools.org/district/human-resources/ and click on “Working as a Substitute.”
There is no doubt, that we have a great team in place now to support our students. I am proud and excited to come to work everyday. I relish the fact, that we are a community school district. That our staff can be seen in the community eating at local restaurants and shopping along Michigan Ave., or walking on the street and in the park. We are a community watching over our students and looking out for one another. It is for that reason that I am looking to our community to find the best people to fill these jobs.
While our jobs can be challenging at times, I believe the rewards far outweighs the challenges. Our community continues to grow, as do additional opportunities to grow within the district. If you know of anyone who is interested, please let them know about the current job openings and encourage them to visit www.salineschools.org/district/human-resources and click on “Job Postings” to apply.